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VIDEO: Emergency placement home houses North Okanagan children

The Cedar House, for youth who cannot live safely with their family, officially opened May 2

A new home that looks to satiate a vital need in emergency placement for youths in Vernon has opened its doors.

Cedar House was opened on Thursday, May 2, by the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society (NOYFSS)

“There are youth resource centres in Vernon, but an emergency placement centre for kids who are possibly going into foster care or in the care system was something that was definitely lacking in the North Okanagan area,” said Vicki Proulx, director of fund development and communications with NOYFSS. “We work really closely with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to make sure that kids have somewhere to go if they need to leave an unsafe situation at their home.”

The building will house two youth, for up to 30 days as NOYFSS helps them find another place to go.

Proulx added that it is “always the goal” to reunite those in the home with their family.

Emergency care staff facilitate the assessment of the child/youth/family’s unique needs and circumstances, increasing the likelihood of reunification with family and ultimately decreasing the amount of youth and children coming into care.

“Currently when a child or youth in this region is living in an unsafe home environment there isn’t always somewhere for them to turn,” said Dean Francks, executive director at NOYFSS. “Often youth will jump from couch to couch living with friends and in many circumstances, they will end up experiencing homelessness. We recognize there is a need for this resource in the North Okanagan and we are excited to be able to offer it to the community.”

Renovations were done on the first floor of the home, complete with a spacious kitchen and living room with a full window. The basement hearkens back to the 1970s, which, despite its age, still provides plenty of space for youth to relax and feel safe.

“It is our intention for these young kids to come here and enjoy themselves, which is something they might not have been able to do previously,” said Francks. “It’s taken just over a year for us to make Cedar House a home and we are thrilled to be opening the doors for children and youth starting this month.”

Cedar House is the third resource centre that NOYFSS has opened in Vernon. The others are Mara House, which provides short term stabilization and Sage House, which offers respite care.

“By creating a multi-resource site dedicated to on-going placement stability with consistent specialized homes care providers NOYFSS can create safe landing places during a challenging time for a child or youth and their family,” said Francks.

READ MORE: Get moving to support Vernon youth

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Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
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