2.6 Coordination at the Service Delivery Level: The Development of a Continuum of Services for Street-involved Youth

This chapter describes the collaborative planning and change process spear-headed by a group of service providers in the city of Hamilton, Ontario: the Street Youth Planning Collaborative (SYPC). The SYPC represents a grassroots-led (or ‘bottom-up’) effort to collectively identify and address the structural factors and individual circumstances influencing the experiences of street-involved youth in the City of Hamilton. In telling the SYPC’s story, I shed a light on the activities of people in Hamilton as they endeavor to create and implement a coordinated system of supports for street-involved youth. As I move through the narrative, I highlight the general implications of this case, teasing out the necessary organizational and behavioural components of a change process that supports a fundamental shift in how people work and think. The case highlights the strategic use of research by a service delivery network to generate a common understanding of a problem and then to identify, plan for and fund a multi-faceted solution. The case also demonstrates the suspension of organizational autonomy that is necessary to joint work. Hamilton’s coordinated response to youth homelessness is supported by shared staffing positions and shared funds that support interdependency and shared accountability. As a research case, the SYPC illustrates some of the strengths and limitations of a community-led or bottom-up organizational response to a complex problem like youth homelessness.

Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Naomi Nichols; Carey Doberstein