Working with youth

For youth aged 14-26 at-risk of or experiencing homelessness, a shelter is not always the best option. A better option would be a program in which people are in a supportive, safe, and comfortable environment.

In Host Homes, youth are provided with:
  • Basic needs (food, shelter, water...)

  • A private and safe room to sleep in

  • Access to amenities and laundry

  • A supportive adult in the home that can lend a listening ear or some advice


With the stress of housing temporarily removed, youth are able to focus on other needs and work towards more stable living situations. Youth meet with hosts and have the ability to choose whom they would like to live with. Giving them the choice to pick a family they feel comfortable with, is making the environment much more suitable for them.

Providing youth with the opportunity to choose what they want to be working towards will encourage success. The program is designed with a focus on the individual themselves: they set their own goals. The organization's role is to support them while the hosts' role is to provide basic needs and a listening ear.

What's the process to working with Youth?

Step 1.

Youth Referral & Intake

Step 2.

Matching Process


Youth Referral & Intake

Each organization has an intake process that designed to match interested youth with Host Home providers. 


Generally, youth fill out an application to determine their eligibility to participate in Host Homes. The form determines if the Youth has any obvious signs of violent behaviour, they are under the influence of any substances, or if they need more support with their mental health than what an untrained host would be able to provide.

The form requires basic information of the Youth, a professional and an adult reference.


  • Ask youth in the program what they would like to get out of it (e.g.: educational/work goals)

  • Use inclusive language (e.g.: including space for preferred name and various genders rather than a binary)

  • Include Youth Voice in Program Design


Matching Process

The matching process consists of interviews, meetings between host and guest, the development of a living agreement and ongoing support once a match is made.


The ongoing support consists of staff providing conflict mediation as well as providing information on rights and responsibilities.

Click on each organization  to learn more about the specifics in term of Youth Intake and Matching Process. 

Boys and Girls Club of Calgary

Youth Referral & Intake

Aura Host Homes Youth Intake Form has various components to gather a fulsome understanding of the young person. This includes who made the referral, caseworker and emergency contact information, health and medical information including current medication, natural and professional support contacts, school/work information, traditions, hobbies, interests, youth determined goals and needs, how the youth can be incorporated in the home, history and experiences, no contact orders, family, and previous placements. 


Those forms include questions about what is important to the young person to ensure a good match and comfortable transition into the Host Home.

Matching Process

Young people have the opportunity to meet with Hosts before they move in. A caseworker introduces the two parties and assists with the initial meeting.


As hosts and youth become more comfortable, they may decide they are a good match to live together and go over a living agreement. 


Something to highlight: both parties get support from staff, and a process is followed in which young people have a choice.

Family and Community Support Services

Youth Referral & Intake

The Safe Coach is the name of FCSS Host Homes program. The Safe Coach intake form begins with an initial intake reviewing general demographic information. Then, it is followed by a more extensive intake used to asses a youth's expectations and match with potential Host Home placements.


To ensure the best support, this intake assessment asks young people about their strengths, how they cope with triggers, and what would be good for a potential host to know about them.

Matching Process

The Host Homes program coordinator has a conversation with the youth about their needs and who the host home volunteers are before the young person decides if they want to meet the hosts.


Due to the rural nature of Cochrane, the resource centre coordinator knows the hosts very well and can ensure a level of comfort for the youth.

Bridging the Gap

Youth Referral & Intake

Youth who have been working with a case worker, social workers, guidance counselor, or community resource agencies can be referred to the Host Homes program by these individuals. The youth can also directly refer themselves to the program or have family or friends refer them.

A Bridging the Gap Transitional Youth Worker meets with the youth to complete a referral to determine suitability for the program and reviews the Host Home Expectations with prospective youth. The Host Provider is contacted to arrange a meet and greet. This provides an opportunity for both parties to ask questions.

Once a placement is agreed upon by both the youth and Host Provider a move-in date is set. Bridging the Gap staff is present during the move-in to ensure that the youth settles in.

In this process, Bridging the Gap staff are involved in every aspect to ensure a smooth transition to the Host Home.

Matching Process

Young people are placed with Hosts in their community. Halton region consists of urban, suburban, and rural communities. Young people from these communities are then able to stay close to natural supports and maintain familiarity with their surroundings. 

One thing to note about this matching process is that often, young people from rural communities are forced to move to more urban areas to receive services but with Host Homes in their communities, this is not the case.

oneROOF Youth Services

Youth Referral & Intake

Referrals come from a variety of sources: the emergency shelter onsite, social service agencies or social workers, high school staff.


Self-referrals are accepted. Staff arrange to meet with the referred youth to confirm suitability and explain the process. Intake form is completed and a time is scheduled for their first assessment, the YAP tool.

Youth who are eligible to move on to the next assessment, the SPDAT. Much of the information is cross-referenced between the two assessments.


After completing the assessments, program expectations are reviewed before moving into the matching process.

Matching Process

Young people choose whom they would like to stay with based on available hosts, then the Host Home provider will be contacted to discuss the potential placement with staff. Once an agreement has been made, a time will be arranged where the Host Home provider and youth can meet, and staff will note the strengths and connections that each share.


Once it has been established that all parties are interested, a living agreement contract will be reviewed and signed. On the occasion that a placement is not available the same day, alternate plans will be made until the youth can be matched and placed with a host home. Within a day or two of placement, staff will meet with youth and develop a service plan to outline the needs and goals of the youth.

Something to note: this organization ensures that young people have shelter as soon as possible, even while the matching process is underway.

The Bridge Services

Youth Referral & Intake

Young people are able to refer themselves to this program. They must complete an agreement form to participate and meet with a social worker.


Young people are expected to have ministry status, meaning that child protection services have had to intervene with their guardians or they sign a voluntary youth services agreement which states that they are agreeing to the care of the organization.

Something to highlight about this program is that all hosts are trained as foster parents, meaning that they are capable of working with and supporting youth in more ways than an untrained volunteer.

Matching Process

Matches in this program come down to the availability of hosts though if multiple hosts were available, the location would be taken into consideration as well.


Because this program consists of a night by night basis, youth are continually choosing whether they would like to go back to the hosts home or enter a different program.


Youth Referral & Intake

Nigthstop Program is the Host Homes 360°kids Host Homes Program. Young people are referred by someone they know (a teacher or other professional) to the Nightstop program. This referral helps the Nightstop team determine if the youth should go through the risk assessment or be directed to another program.


Nightstop has a standardized risk assessment that consists of a set of questions to determine whether the young person can be placed with a host family.

The risk assessment asks questions about their mental health, criminal history, substance use, and other things that would help the Nightstop team to determine if the youth are a good match for the program.


Additionally, two references are called to get a more wholesome understanding of the young person. Assessing the risk of the young person is important for the living situation as hosts are not trained professionals and youth who may need more support would not get what they need in this kind of program.

Something to highlight with this process is the consistency across all Nightstop programs, this ensures fidelity with the program.

Matching Process

Due to the same night placement nature of the Nightstop program, hosts and young people are not able to meet before youth are placed in a home.


The Nightstop staff have an extensive conversation with hosts to let them know about each young person seeking help and hosts decide if they are able to take the young person in that night. Staff also have a conversation with the young people about who is available to take them in for the night and what these families are like.


Based on the location of the Host Homes, youth are placed with a family they would feel comfortable with that might live close to their school, workplace, or community. Additionally, other considerations are made when placing a youth like if there are pets in the home or other children in the home.


Nightstop staff check-in with both hosts and young people each morning to see how the Night went and determine with the hosts and youth separately whether another night in the same home would be good for both parties or if the young person should be placed with new hosts.

The Canadian Nightstop program has developed a host profile book with photos and biographies of the host families. Young people are shown the profiles of available families and are actively engaged in the matching process.