The Ontario government has allocated $1.3 million from the $16-million, Ontario-wide poverty-reduction fund to London.
Last Friday, MPP Deb Matthews announced that four organizations in London will receive a portion of the fund: the London Family Court Clinic, London District Catholic School Board, Unity Project For Relief of Homelessness in London and M’Wikwedong Native Cultural Resource Centre.
The money will be used to evaluate and design poverty reduction programs. For example, the London Family Court Clinic, a non-profit organization that works with families and youth involved in the court system, will receive $570,400. The clinic plans to use the grant to work with young people involved in the justice system in the London-Middlesex area.
“I’m really pleased with the variety of projects that have been funded," said Joyce Radford, a psychologist at the LFCC. She explained that these initiatives all fall "under the same goal: improve people's outcomes with regards to the impact of poverty and reducing it.”
Radford noted that young people living in poverty appear at the LFCC 10 times more frequently than youth in the general population and that they have a much higher prevalence of mental health issues.
The LFCC analyzed 280 files and found that three-quarters of them had a mental health diagnosis and half of them had a PTSD diagnosis. Childhood trauma is associated with increased enrollment in the criminal justice system. This high incidence rate led to LFCC's proposal to design, deliver and evaluate a trauma-informed intervention program. The program will target young people involved in the court system that demonstrate histories of trauma.
The LFCC’s project will span three years and will cover three major areas. First is a trauma-informed counselling support approach to support and help youth. Second is service coordination, which will help youth with daily-life needs like helping them register for school or find housing. Third is a training and support service for community members to deliver a trauma-informed care response.
“In the end, we are hoping to be able to demonstrate an improved outcome with regards to poverty indications through education, employment and training,” Radford said.