YouthLink Residence (YLR) Treatment for Young Women


YouthLink Residence (YLR) can accommodate up to 12 young people between the ages of 14-18 who need intensive live in support as they are unable to live with their family, a foster family or in a group home. The residence primarily supports young cisgendered women however, young people who are gender independent, fluid or trans identified are welcome. The residential program offers a therapeutic, welcoming, home-like environment for youth. The program combines treatment for mental health concerns with life-skills training and emphasizes diversity and inclusiveness.


Our young people, initially, often very isolated and disconnected from community activities and supports. As a result, upon admission, youth are integrated into community activities when possible, including schooling, employment, recreation, religious institutions and health services so as to begin providing them with a network of local supports and to decrease their feelings of alienation. The young people remain in the program until there is mutual agreement that the goals have been achieved or they have reached 19 years of age.


The YouthLink Residence (YLR) works to improve the functioning of these young people with significant mental health and/or behavioural issues so they have the capacity to have healthy, meaningful relationships and move to more independent living in the community. YLR residents have a variety of presenting issues, needs, and strengths and have complex histories of trauma, attachment disruption, physical abuse, and neglect that require a highly planned and individualized program. Their mental health has often been negatively affected by these experiences and impacts their ability to function and to regulate emotion. YLR provides safe and stable housing and support for the youth’s basic needs. Programming includes daily informal counselling and emotional support from staff, formal individual counselling, emotional and practical life skills groups, social skills building, supported recreational and extra-curricular activities, remedial education, therapeutic adult role models  and help to establish connections with community agencies and caregivers or others.


YLR uses a relational and strengths-based treatment approach and individualizes treatment. Treatment is trauma- informed and when appropriate, incorporates concepts of dialectical behavior therapy.  The relationship with the youth is the key program component as it is within the relationship with a supportive adult that change is made possible for these young people. As the problematic  symptoms and  behaviours that the young people display are products of past trauma and other significantly stressful experiences,  understanding and respect form the foundation of the work.  The program uses a collaborative, individualized and flexible approach sensitive to each youth’s unique needs and abilities.


Highly trained, full time staff members work with residents to help them set goals and develop sustainable life strategies to address and overcome their challenges. Our principles are built on the foundation of partnership and voluntary participation. Each young woman is assigned a counsellor who works with the resident and her family, if appropriate. Initially, residents live in a highly structured environment that focuses on treatment and stability and builds resilience and self-esteem. As residents develop competence in their daily needs, they may progress to the Third Floor Program, which places higher emphasis on self-sufficiency and life skills, and begins to connect residents with community and/or family supports. Residents also have access to a special classroom through Delisle Youth Services if they require additional educational support.


Key principles underlying the program philosophy include that the youth are  ‘experts’  in what is working for them and not working for them in their lives,  that change will occur for young people when they learn new skills,  that the young people are doing the best they can and that they will act and/or do better when they are safer, happier, supported by trusting adults and feel better understood by those who care for them.  Rewards and punishments are not used as facilitators of change.


Staff approaches with the youth focus on building resiliency and coping skills, establishing social skills that can lead to long- term relationships, exhibiting empathetic responses to client reactions resulting from previous traumatic experiences, and modeling coping strategies.  Staff work within a philosophy of respect, client engagement, skill building, and strength promotion.


Is it for me?


Are you a young cis gendered woman, trans-identified person or gender fluid person  between the ages of 14 and 18 looking for a safe, welcoming setting to live? This program has two components, one for young people who require a fair amount of support and direction; the other for young people who need less support and are preparing for semi-independence or independent living. Both components are offered to young people who are able to function in a community setting and are willing to participate in a treatment residence.


What can I expect?


The residence offers a safe, supportive setting with full-time staff who will help you set and achieve your goals. We help you prepare for independence while encouraging contact with community, family and support systems. You will have access to counselling, life skills groups and recreational.  Find Out More


How do I apply?


All applications must go through Delisle Youth Service’s Centralized Access to Residential Services (CARS).  Please have a school teacher, counsellor, or other professional help you make the referral.  CARS can be contacted at 416-482-7884.  CARS works with every group home in Toronto to assess which residence will best meet your needs.