The province has awarded the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan (JHSS) a $3.4 million contract in 2022-23 to coordinate and integrate services to meet the needs of youth aged 12 to 25 and their caregivers.

The JHSS will implement a provincial model for Integrated Youth Services (IYS), providing rapid access to youth-targeted supports, with a focus on prevention and early intervention. Services offered are typically for mental health and substance misuse, peer supports, primary care, education, employment and training and social and community services. 

Services will be offered in at least three physical locations across the province. Virtual programming will begin while physical locations are being established. 

"Right now there's numerous government departments and non-profit agencies across the province that are already offering great services to youth. Sometimes the challenge is just connecting youth with those services," said JHSS CEO Shawn Fraser. "This partnership between the health region and John Howard Society, what we're really going to work on is making sure there's a great online presence for people to connect with existing services and also we'll be subcontracting with other non-profits across Saskatchewan to develop a series of drop-in centres. It's really about just making those connections."

Fraser says Moose Jaw would be a great fit to house one of the drop-in centres.

"The health authority is interested in making sure there's a diverse set of locations. We'll be looking at everything from our big cities to our medium size cities. Even to rural and remote communities across the province and that will happen over the course of the coming months through a competitive process."

This inter-sectoral initiative includes leadership and support from the Ministries of Health, Education, Social Services, Justice, Corrections, Policing and Public Safety, Advanced Education, Immigration and Career Training, and Government Relations. 

"The idea would be like a one-stop shop for youth," added Fraser. "If a youth is experiencing homelessness, a place that they can come and talk to someone and find out what their options are on where to sleep tonight. Immediate needs like that. All the way up to, say there's a youth graduating Grade 12 and looking to see what they have for scholarship options. We would connect them with opportunities around education and that sort of thing. We see it work in other provinces."

Integrated Youth Services is a national and international movement, aimed at reimagining how youth and their families find and access the resources, services and supports they need.