What do you do when one of your students might be homeless?

Almost every young person who becomes homeless was at some point in school. Research tells us that young people experiencing homelessness are very likely to be bullied, to see their grades drop significantly, and to drop out or be kicked out of school. Young people report that often the first adult who knows about their homelessness is a teacher, guidance counsellor, or principal. They also report that the ways that school staff respond to their homelessness often worsened the issue, as they are penalized, suspended, or expelled.

Canadian schools have no official policies and inconsistent practices for responding to youth homelessness at this time. Working Upstream aims to change this. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, this community-academic collaborative research project is investigating how we might transform schools into sites of youth homelessness prevention. This is building on school-based prevention work that is happening internationally in Australia, Wales, and the U.S.

This interactive workshop is led by a team of young people who have experienced homelessness and Carleton University researchers. Building on what researchers have heard from young people who are homeless in two Ontario cities, the workshop explores prevailing myths and stereotypes about youth homelessness, the signs and symptoms of homelessness, the complex situations young people face when they are at risk of or experiencing homelessness, and what school staff can do to better support their students who are facing this crisis.

Youth Homelessness Teachers in Training Workshop

Working Upstream team members running a workshop for students at the University of Ottawa’s Teacher Education program