A shelter provides short-term emergency housing for abused women and their children in a safe and secure environment. (Male children over the age of 14 years will be referred to an alternative shelter.) Although shelters are well known as providing safety and housing for women and their children, shelter workers also provide other equally important functions, including advocacy, crisis intervention, supportive counseling, education, outreach and transitional support to women and their children. All the services are completely confidential, are accessed on a voluntary basis, are are provided at no cost.
The confidentiality of women accessing shelter services is paramount to shelters. To that end, most shelters maintain only minimal records on the women, and these data are for statistics only.
Responding to non-English speaking women and their children coming from abusive relationships is of the utmost importance to shelters. Shelter, when provided with the resources, provide non-English women and their children with an objective interpreter for all aspects of the shelter’s work.
There are two emergency women’s shelters serving the women of York Region:
In addition to women’s shelters, there are also family shelters where women may seek temporary residence with their children. Family shelters provide housing to any family grouping, and are not restricted to homeless women and children. The services are voluntary, confidential, and free to those who qualify for social assistance. If the woman has an income, the funding is based on what she is able to pay. Family shelters, however, do not provide a secure environment for an abused woman the way a women’s shelter does. Family shelters accept referrals from women’s shelters for women who do not require a secure environment. Also, family shelters refer residents to other services, including counselling agencies, employment centres and housing resource centres, as appropriate. A community housing support worker is also on site.
There is one family shelter serving the families of York Region: