Helping Children and Youth | Red Door Family Shelter

Helping Children and Youth

The face of homelessness in Toronto is changing and it is having a devastating and disruptive effect as more families and children are in need of emergency and temporary shelter. Children now make up the largest group of individuals at the Red Door, and on any given night over 50% of our residents are children.children painting

Support for children and youth is absolutely vital, because they are the most vulnerable casualties of homelessness. Many of our young residents are struggling with trauma, loss and confusion.  They often have a confused sense of being somehow responsible for what has happened, and children in these situations often have few happy memories of home.

When we got to the shelter my oldest son had the hardest time. The staff made all the difference. They were patient and understanding, and the youth programs gave him the support he needed to work through the pain and frustration.” - A former resident and mother of two children

On any given night, over 50% of our residents are children.

Taking care of a child’s emotional and psychological well-being is a high priority for us at the Red Door. We offer child and youth programming with a focus on healthy childhood development, education and recreation to support our young residents through what is a very painful and often frightening experience.

Preschool Program (Children ages 2 years to 5 years old)
The preschool program provides early learning and social skills to children in a safe, nurturing environment. This program also gives parents time to themselves during the day to look for jobs, go to appointments, search for housing, go for interviews or just take a well needed break. Living at the shelter is a stressful time in a person’s life. This is a time when parents often need a break, but is also a key time in a child’s life when they need additional support and attention.

After School Programs (Children from 6 years old to 13 years old)
The after school programs provide added support for school age children. The children meet for one hour after school in order to receive assistance with homework and class work, as one of the goals is to help children establish a homework routine. We also offer recreational activities such as games, visits to the library or a local park, and arts and crafts.

Teen Program (Ages 14 years old-18 years old)
The teenage years are a critical age for breaking cycles of abuse and homelessness as teens are nearing or have reached the age where they are making decisions about their future. We provide seminars and workshops for teenagers and parents residing at the shelter which cover a wide range of topics designed to provide youth with the tools to make important life decisions as well as give parents the tools to support their children through this difficult time. Topics include Violence Prevention, Youth and the Law, and Healthy Eating. We also offer homework support and fun and recreational games and experiences.

Funding Needs

Our Child and Youth Programs are funded directly by donations from generous donors. This year we need to raise $360,000 to support these vitally important programs that help to break the cycle of abuse and homelessness and give children hope and promise for the future. These children and youth live in our communities and they need and deserve our support.

You can help support our Children's Programs:

Help fund our costs with a one time donation

  • $10 – Provides TTC tickets and lunch for a child to attend a recreational day outing
  • $25 –  Provides arts and crafts supplies for a child to let their creativity flow.
  • $50 –  Provides a child with nutritious school lunches for 1 month
  • $100 – Funds an art therapy class to provide emotional support for a child or teen.
  • $250 – Funds a play day for our children’s program

Donate supplies, gift cards, or tickets to events

Volunteer in one of our programs, or run your own activity