Terra Brentwood Project: Developing a Model of Supportive Housing for Teen Parents

January 19, 2018

CUP’s Evaluation Capacity Network (ECN), Terra Centre, and Brentwood Housing Society came together in 2015 to develop a model of supportive housing for teen families using an evaluative approach. In collaboration, Terra and Brentwood provide safe, secure and affordable housing and wraparound supports to teen parents and their children. Through evaluation, the partnership has learned and improved upon the existing model, while increasing understanding of the impacts that these supports have on the children and parents.

The ECN team, Rebecca Gokiert, Bethan Kingsley and Melissa Tremblay, used a developmental evaluation approach to support the creation of the supportive housing model, allowing adaptations to the model as learning arose. The project used both qualitative and quantitative methods to capture the range of activities and areas of learning that exist within the partnership. Qualitative methods included focus groups with staff and parents, individual interviews, and capturing observational information through the use of photovoice. Photovoice helped the parents to share their experiences through a combination of photography and group discussion. This approach enabled the parents to more fully share their experiences and needs in order to capture more completely the complexities of their lives. Quantitative methods included monitoring (e.g. home visits, crisis encounters) and use of a number of measures to gauge the experiences of children and their parents (e.g. Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale).

The photovoice project culminated in the Young Parent Photovoice Exhibition which was displayed at Edmonton City Hall in the summer of 2017. CTV News and CBC Edmonton helped to share the parents’ stories further by speaking directly with two of the parents about their experiences as teen parents and their involvement in the project.

This project addressing a complex social issue highlights the importance of sharing stories about process and not only the (end) products, no matter how incomplete or imperfect the process appears to be. It is this imperfect learning that is often the most valuable, and change within complex systems is often unpredictable.

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