Upstream Canada: An Early Intervention Strategy to Prevent Youth Homelessness & School Disengagement

Upstream Canada is a response to this challenge and the staggering reality that 35,000 – 45,000 youth in Canada experience homelessness each year (Gaetz, 2016). This initiative is a preventive approach to the problem that works to offer supports to youth ages 12-18 who are identified as at risk of homelessness and school disengagement through a universal screening tool called the Student Needs Assessment (SNA). This universal approach sets Upstream Canada apart from other interventions as it identifies students who do not display outward signs of risk and experience barriers to accessing help. Upstream Canada is an adaptation of work that originated in Australia as The Geelong Project (since renamed Upstream Australia), which has demonstrated a 40% reduction in youth homelessness three years after implementation. As an equity-focused early intervention that works through the collective efforts of schools and community-based organizations, Upstream Canada works to prevent youth homelessness and early school leaving.

Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press