Missing Links: Youth Programs, Social Services, and African Youth in Metro Vancouver
Author(s): J. Francis
This paper provides a preliminary exploration of African youths' access to integration and settlement resources and examines their relationships with organizations serving youth in Metro Vancouver. Data was collected through individual interviews with youth workers and settlement service providers and in focus groups with African youth and parents. The preliminary findings were presented at a Community Forum where participants generated practical recommendations to improve services to better meet the needs of African youth and families. The study's main finding is that there is a series of disconnections or missing links between African youth and information and resources related to employment, education, social services, and wider society. There are also gaps between settlement and social service organisations and African families, as well as among service providers themselves. These gaps may lead to a sense of mistrust among parents and youth in relation to settlement and social service organisations as well as underrepresentation of African youth in programs that could help them settle in Canada. To address these concerns, the author suggests the need for a better coordinated service approach including more personal outreach to youth and families and argues that integrated services should be available when people first arrive and throughout their settlement and integration processes.