The Saskatoon Downtown Youth Centre Inc. – EGADZ is launching a new app to help youth workers. The Missing Youth Saskatchewan app will digitize risk assessment for missing or runaway youth.
EGADZ received $50,000 from the government of Saskatchewan to develop the app, the first of its kind.
“I am pleased to announce the development of the Missing Youth Saskatchewan app to engage and support these youth,” Saskatoon Willowgrove MLA Ken Cheveldayoff said in a press release on behalf of Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky.
Both the Saskatoon Police Service and the government of Saskatchewan contributed to developing the app.
Youth workers currently use a risk assessment tool to determine if missing youth are at risk and if police need to be notified. Not every instance of a young person going missing for a short while warrants police intervention.
Rob Meikle, executive director of EGADZ, says unnecessary police intervention breaks down trust between kids and care organizations, and strains police resources.
“With the app, we will only report kids that are legitimately missing and at high risk. It allows police to put the resources where they are needed, instead of chasing their tail all the time,” Meikle said.
The app will digitize the workflow of youth workers, allowing them to exchange information more efficiently, and aims to bring down the number of unnecessary calls to the police even more.
It also guarantees that privacy stays protected and only the necessary information is shared through the correct channels — something that is highly necessary when working with minors.
Meikle added that the app will allow youth workers to focus less on paperwork and more on what is important.
“When you start telling these kids, ‘Hey, let me know where you are, let me know you are safe. Then we don’t have to call the cops on you,’ it starts to open up the dialogue and allows a bond of trust to grow.”
Youth workers in Saskatoon have started training with the app this week and Meikle hopes to roll out the app to all organizations in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan that have youth in their care.