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Building the Field of Teen Healthy Relationships Programming in Canada

Although teen healthy relationship programs are offered across Canada, there is a need for more coordinated efforts to link and support these programs. That’s why the Foundation is working toward change at a national level through Building the Field of Teen Healthy Relationships, a three-year program that began in 2015.

Supported by Status of Women Canada, the initiative is bringing together community programs, academics, policy-makers, funders, and youth to share successes and challenges, as well as to discuss the future of teen healthy relationship programming.

  • Project Overview
    What are the project goals?
    This is an opportunity to facilitate increased collaboration among those operating in the field related to Teen Healthy Relationships Field. For example, across Canada there are:> Many organizations that deliver programs aimed at increasing teens’ capacity for healthy relationships;> A variety of funders/philanthropic organizations that fund such programs;

    > A range of initiatives and policies at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government related to healthy youth development (including healthy relationships); and

    > Individual researchers and academic institutions that are involved in generating evidence about what works to develop the capacity of teens for healthy relationships.

    The focus of this initiative is to increase and strengthen links and relationships between these entities and establish greater coordination, alignment, communication and knowledge sharing. Ultimately, a new generation of young people will be better supported to lead healthy, violence-free lives.

    Who is involved in the project?
    The Leadership Roundtable meets monthly to advise, guide and support the project activities. Membership is made up of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, project partner organizations, and representatives from each of the working groups. The structure includes a rotating voluntary chairperson, and is horizontal in nature to support and enhance the collaborative spirit that guides the Building the Field project as a whole.

    Current partner organizations include:
    1. Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association
    2. Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre
    3. National Association of Friendship Centres
    4. Partners for Youth | Alliance Pro-jeunesse
    5. PREVNet
    6. Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre

    Activities have included:
    >Creating a National Database of Teen Healthy Relationships stakeholders
    >Gathering preliminary insights on the field through exploratory consultations
    >Developing a national survey on the current state of the Teen Healthy Relationships field
    >Organizing annual National Forums
    >Administering funds across working group activities

    What are the key focus areas for the project?
    Working groups meet on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to discuss and develop means of strengthening the field. These meetings are facilitated by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and the working group chairs. All activities are entirely directed by the members of the working groups, all of whom are representatives of the teen healthy relationships field in Canada.

    Current working groups include:
    1. First Nations, Métis and Inuit Programming
    2. Equipping and Engaging Adults
    3. National Leadership

    Past working groups:
    1. Community Program Settings and Hard to Reach Youth

     
    LEARN MORE ABOUT BUILDING THE FIELD OF TEEN HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

      • Mapping the Field of Teen Healthy Relationships

        A National Survey to better understand the current state of the field of Teen Healthy Relationships in Canada was sent out to 501 potential stakeholders from four sectors (non-profit program providers, researchers and academics, funders and philanthropists, and government and policy makers) in the fall of 2016. Our evaluation partners, InsideOut, developed the survey with the input of the Leadership Roundtable.

        The purpose was to develop a preliminary ‘picture’ of the people, organizations and work/initiatives that currently make up the “Teen Healthy Relationships Field” across Canada. By doing this, we wanted to:

        Create a map of all the individuals, organizations, projects, and initiatives currently underway across different contexts, sectors and geographies in Canada
        Learn about the goals and objectives of each stakeholder, as well as the kinds of challenges and barriers they may face in achieving them
        Identify areas for improvement and intervention in order to overcome challenges and strengthen the field of Teen Healthy Relationships

        For more information on the Mapping results, read the Building the Field of Teen Healthy Relationships: National Survey Data Report – Executive Summary

        • National Forums for Building the Field of Teen Healthy Relationships

          First National Forum

          The first national forum was held in Toronto in April 2017. It brought together approximately 70 stakeholders from different sectors and regions across Canada to understand, discuss, and connect with others in the field of Teen Healthy Relationships.

          The purpose was to build relationships between champions and key stakeholders operating in the Teen Healthy Relationships field, to develop a shared understanding of the current state of the field through sharing the Mapping the Field results, and to develop 4 – 6 preliminary action plans, supported by working groups, to address opportunities for building and strengthening the field.

          There were 8 priorities identified for the field from this forum, including:

          1. Teen Healthy Relationships Program Providers, and the need to better support their efforts. Participants highlighted the need to identify a core set of skills, as well as basic training and evaluations programs, in order to strengthen their work.

          2. Involving Parents, Caregivers & Other Support Systems within Teen Healthy Relationship programming for a more holistic approach that can begin to change different aspects of teen lives, within the family, within the community, and at school.

          3. Building National Leadership and Network, which would be responsible for engaging and advocating with government, building relationships with funding agencies, and connecting frontline service providers with one another.

          4. Indigenous Programming, which needs to emanate from a strengths-based perspective rather than one that is based in the risks and dangers that Indigenous youth may face, a shift in perspective that can provide an important means of empowering youth.

          5. Community Program Settings, including youth populations that may be harder to reach, such as rural communities, as well as programs that are offered in out-of-school settings such as community centres.

          6. Access & Engagement for Youth Not in School, including youth who may be in treatment, in care, in custody, or being home-schooled. Here, it is important to consider the challenges specific to certain populations when developing programming.

          7. Online & Digital Programming, which highlights the possibilities of using digital media and new media technologies to reach youth populations online, in order to both reach a larger population of young people, as well as reach them through the media they are most invested in.

          8. Youth Voice & Gender Diverse Youth provide the overarching core principles for all action areas. Centering these voices will become a guiding principle of all the work in Teen Healthy Relationship programming.

          For more information on the first national forum and the priorities set for the field, read the Building the Field of Teen Healthy Relationships: Mid-Project Report

          View the agenda and materials.

          Second National Forum

          The second national forum will be held in Winnipeg from June 4-5, 2018. It will bring together approximately 70 stakeholders from different sectors and regions across Canada to understand, discuss, and connect with others in the field of Teen Healthy Relationships.

          The purpose of this meeting will be to build relationships for further collaboration across sectors and regions, share learnings on identified priority action areas for strengthening the field by the working group activity results, understanding the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action for the field, and develop further recommendations to build and enhance the field nationally, including next steps for the field building work.

          Click here to register. As this is an action planning meeting we request that all registrants commit to attending both days.

          View the agenda and materials.
          • Implement Action

            At the first National Forum for the BTF project, held in Toronto on April 4th and 5th, 2017, participants collectively identified four main areas for strengthening the field of Teen Healthy Relationships in Canada. During the forum, we identified the strengths, challenges and barriers for each of these areas, and created four working groups, made up of members from within the field of teen healthy relationships across the country.

            The goal of each of these working groups was for the members to collectively and collaboratively develop ways of strengthening the overall field of teen healthy relationships by strengthening specific, critical areas through pilot projects or other proposals for collective action and knowledge sharing.

            From April 2017 to May 2018, these working groups met on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to discuss and develop means of strengthening the field. These meetings, while facilitated by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, are entirely directed by the members of the working groups, all of whom are representatives of the teen healthy relationships field in Canada.

            For more information on the working groups, read the Building the Field of Teen Healthy Relationships: Mid-Project Report

            WORKING GROUPS
            First Nations, Métis and Inuit Programming Working Group

            This working group has the overarching goal of centering First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth perspectives throughout the field of teen healthy relationships. Towards this large goal, the group has developed three main initiatives:

            1. Resources: Indigenous perspectives in Teen Healthy Relationships Programs
            2. Integrating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action in the field:

            · Call to Action #10 – draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples.
            · Call to Action #38 – commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in custody over the next decade
            · Call to Action #66 – establish multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation, and establish a national network to share information and best practices.

            3. Involving and Mentoring Youth

            Equipping and Engaging Adults Working Group

            The primary goal of this group is to better engage and equip adults to support youth in developing and maintaining healthy relationships. Members of this working group aim to identify the core competencies and best practices for adults who work closely with youth, or are a supportive presence in youth lives, and to share experiences and resources amongst different program providers. Importantly, this group recognizes that youth are themselves the experts in this question, and seek out youth perspectives in identifying how and to what degree adults should be engaged in these programs, as well as what kinds of information and skills are useful for those facilitating healthy relationships programs.

            Focus Group to Gather Youth Perspectives

            In order to do so, this working group has created a focus group model to gain youth perspectives about their needs and expectations for involving the adults in their lives in healthy relationships programs. The focus group questions developed so far are geared to two main groups of adults:

            · Workshop facilitators who offer teen healthy relationships programs, and
            · Supportive adults, including parents, guardians, family members, teachers, coaches and any other influential and supportive adults.

            National Leadership Working Group

            The main focus of this group is to create a national strategy for teen healthy relationships in Canada. The purpose of the working group is to enable the frontline programs and grassroots teams who are actively engaged in developing and delivering teen healthy relationships programs, but who do not necessarily have the organizational capacity to also do policy advocacy, fundraising, knowledge sharing, and capacity building. Therefore, the National Leadership working group was created in an effort to develop a strategy and set of activities to enable better coordination and collaboration in the field of teen healthy relationships nationally. The group has been working on two interdependent documents towards this effort:

            1. Case for support

            · Rationale for a National Strategy: Why do we need a national strategy for teen healthy relationships and what will it accomplish?

            · Rationale for Focusing on Healthy Relationships: The presence of healthy and supportive relationships, as well as the presence of a supportive school environment, are both theoretically and empirically related to positive adolescent mental health. While healthy relationships are an important focus for preventing dating violence (i.e., the “what”), policy and practice efforts also need to consider where and how to target prevention and intervention.

            · Goal and Function of the Strategy: There are two main goals of the strategy:

            >To develop a national strategy on healthy adolescent relationships that is designed to provide a sound theoretical and evidence base to support future government, community and corporate sector activity to promote healthy relationships and prevent violence.

            >The primary goal of the strategy is to create connections among those in the field (practitioners, policy makers, funders, and researchers) to share evidence-based knowledge, identify and advocate for filling in the gaps, and identify promising practices.

            · Vision and Mission of the National Strategy: All young people in Canada are supported to build healthy safe relationships and maintain connections throughout their lives.

            2. Logic Model for a National Action Plan for Healthy Relationships

            The logic model provides details about the specific activities, outputs, outcomes and impact of the five different phases of building a national strategy for teen healthy relationships. It outlines the constitutive elements of each phase, providing concrete details about the efforts that will be required to create the strategy.

            Community Programs Settings and Hard to Reach Youth Working Group

            The main focus of this group is to reach youth who are in custody, in care, are home-schooled, and otherwise outside of the school system where most programs are offered. This group is especially interested in identifying current programs, successes and gaps, and online engagement tools to reach these youth.

            Mapping Community Programs for Hard to Reach Youth

            The first step for this working group was to begin mapping existing programs in community settings, especially those focused on hard to reach youth, such as youth in care, homeless youth, youth not in school, and youth struggling with substance abuse. Several members of the working group are themselves involved in such programs, and work with different vulnerable youth populations in various settings. The first step of the mapping process was to create a list of existing programs. The next steps planned in this effort were:

            * Reach out to members of other working groups to collect information about more programs
            * Distribute a survey to understand the challenges, barriers, and successes of existing programs that working with hard to reach youth
            * Create a set of recommendations, or a strategy, for better engaging and supporting hard to reach youth through community programs

            This working group, despite a strong goal and methodology, unfortunately had to suspend its efforts because of the difficulties of coordinating and attending meetings from across different geographical contexts.

    Building the Field of Teen Healthy Relationships is funded by Status of Women Canada, a federal government organization that promotes equality for women and their full participation in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada.

    Status of Women Logo     Government of Canada Logo

    The Foundation partnered with Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association, National Association of Friendship Centres, PREVNet, Partners for Youth | Alliance Pro-jeunesse, and Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre to help collaboratively guide the initiative.

    Antigonish Women's Resource Centre Logo                PREVNet logo