Ray of Hope reopens Secure Custody and Detention Center

By Justine Fraser

Ray of Hope has reopened its Secure Custody and Detention facility after a temporary closure, welcoming young men between the ages of 12 to 17 years old who are involved with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The facility was closed back in February due to staffing shortages.

Ray of Hope CEO, Tonya Verburg, told CityNews Kitchener the closure gave them time to rehire and retrain staff while also improving the programs for youth. They have a partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) to make improvements to the center.

“It really allowed us an opportunity to be able to ensure that everything that we’re doing is best to support the youth,” she said.

The rehabilitation facility offers youth programs that address underlying causes of criminal behaviour. Those programs include “case management, anger management, substance abuse prevention, education provided by on-site WRDSB teachers, post-secondary education opportunities, an extensive trades program, life skills development, and spiritual care.”

Verburg said since the closure the organization added new orientation and training for staff, implemented trauma informed person-centered training, enhanced security for the building and added a welding shop to their trades program for youth coming in.

They have a partnership with the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) for their on-site school where teachers come in and support youth in educational programs.

“We have three classrooms so that they can continue on with elementary and high school; we also are one of the first in the province to have a post-secondary program,” said Verburg.

She said they had a human resources crisis that caused the staffing shortages that have since been fixed. They have hired new staff and retrained all staff together.

“When a youth arrives in the facility, we’re really looking at how can we support this youth to successfully reintegrate back into the community. So right from day one, we’re looking at what skills and education and training is this youth interested in and would need so that when they are released from custody that they are job ready or can go back to school.”

Ray of Hope has a partnership with the Ontario College of Trades where youth can graduate with over 30 certifications including certifications in safe lifting and safe at heights.

In the last year, they served about 56 youth in the Secure Custody and Detention Center.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today