The Bridge Youth & Family Services-Youth Recovery House

The Bridge Youth & Family Services has been a touchstone for some of the most vulnerable families in the Okanagan for almost 50 years.  As an accredited agency, we achieve and maintain the highest international standards of professional practice.   In all of our five decades of service we have been inspired by the exceptional leadership of a volunteer Board of Directors which has obliged us to be resourceful and efficient, and yet always compels us to maintain compassion, collaboration and innovation as the focus that drives us forward.
We embrace the Okanagan community with two distinct arms of service.  Since inception we have focused on community and families – we work preventatively with new parents and their infants, we counsel families who are struggling with their role, and we are a leader in working on behalf of the Ministry of Children and Family Development with young people in our community who are the most marginalized, street entrenched and disenfranchised.
Our other arm of service includes our substance use resources – as the largest provider of substance use services for the Interior Health Authority, we provide Supported Recovery Housing, Intensive Live-In Adult Treatment, community-based naloxone training, the street outreach for the Mobile Supervised Injection Site, and Withdrawal Management – detox – for both young people and adults.
These two arms of service have provided us with a unique vantage point in this current public health emergency.  As we know you are aware, the rate of death for children and young people between the age of 10 and 18 doubled from 2016 to 2017.   The young people who have passed away in our region are known to us, they are not numbers on a page.  We have had a front row seat to those children who die alone, often in public spaces, with no one there to comfort them or care – and it has shattered us.
Given our area of expertise, families call our front desk on a weekly basis in distress, looking for treatment for their son or daughter – only to be told none exists here.  The extensive wait list for the mere 45 publicly funded spaces in all of British Columbia wastes the small window of opportunity we have with young people who have gathered their strength and resolve in that moment to pursue recovery.  The few (less than 4) beds in Keremeos/ Ashnola are our closest option – but in addition to a significant and consistent wait list, that resource accepts no child under the age of 17.  And we know, based on the referrals to our Youth Detox, and the data from the BC Coroner’s report that we need to have places of solace, learning, recovery and healing for children as young as 12 and 13. Perhaps younger.
The majority of participants in our Adult Treatment Centre tell us their addiction began in their youth; this reported age of onset is typical and consistent with the literature.  An investment in these young people and their families will have ripple effects for this community and our province – we will stem the tide of poverty, trauma, family breakdown, victimization, homelessness, and mental and physical illness that a lifetime of addiction often entails. 
Youth treatment is a preventative strategy that will have significant positive impact on many of the issues our community has identified as social priorities. 
Our Youth Recovery House will provide the tools, skills and resources these children need to succeed, while their brain is still developing and receptive to learning new and different ways to live and to cope.  We will keep them alive so that they can meet their potential and be able to meaningfully contribute to the communities and families who raised them.

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