The recent news about the death of 18-year-old Alex Gervais in a hotel in the Fraser Valley has focused on the fact that he was housed in a hotel for a period of time while he was in the care of the government.
It’s probably worth saying out loud that the reason that kids end up with the Government as their guardian is almost always that unbelievably awful things have happened to them…whether by nature or nurture. Those events and/or circumstances, when compounded by repeated movement from temporary caregiver to temporary caregiver, are often the trigger for behavior that is incredibly challenging, and not at all expected from a kid. For kids like Alex, their feelings of attachment and trust have been deeply damaged, which often leads to the extreme behaviours that make them difficult to take care of in the available “system” options.
What’s all too easy to forget is that at our core we are wired to survive and that’s where the extreme behaviours come from…the will to survive. Our publicly funded system, understandably, struggles to offer these specific kids the patient, non-judgmental, and enduring support they need.
We wanted to let you know that Boys and Girls Clubs has long been working on a plan to provide homes to the 60 kids (under 19 years old) that we already work with annually who are homeless, and for whom the current publically-funded housing options just don’t work. Our plan has been referred to as the missing piece in the puzzle to solve homelessness. You’ll hear more in the months to come because you’ll be a critical part of making it happen. In the meantime, Alex Gervais’ memory can keep us all clearly focused on doing everything we can to make things better for kids like him who deserve a better outcome.