Housing First for Youth Service Delivery Model

Practice Example: Active Engagement


Check what you've learned with this scenario.

The HF4Y case manager, has been working with Jared for about two months. Lately, Jared seems anxious. He doesn’t make eye contact, won’t engage in conversation and keeps their visits short. His apartment is untidy – more so than usual with takeout containers and dirty dishes everywhere. When the case manager confronts Jared about the mess, he says that he has some new friends and they’ve been hanging out at his place.

The case manager worries that the “friends” might be taking advantage. She asks Jared about it, but he reacts angrily and denies it’s a problem. She reminds him he could get kicked out if the landlord sees his place or for having loud parties. He tells her to leave.


The Case Manager wants to show Jared that she is genuinely concerned about his safety, but she doesn’t want to push him to be upset. She has heard about active engagement, but she isn’t sure how it works. She asks some of her co-workers for advice. (Hint: Remember you’re aiming to “assertive” but not aggressive.)

   A.  Co-worker 1 suggests: You did the best you could. You reminded of the rules. He should know better.

   B.  Co-worker 2 suggests: Check in with him and asks if he's doing okay? You could offer to help set boundaries with the friends if needed.

   C.  Co-worker 3 suggests: Tell the landlord about your concerns in Jared’s unit.

What would you do if you were the HF4Y Case Manager do? Which of these choices fits with an active engagement approach?

Reveal feedback

Choice B fits best with an active engagement approach. Learning how to make good decisions takes practice.

The principle of choice is central to the philosophy of HF4Y. Young people have access to the supports they need, as they choose. The case manager’s role is navigating the space between honouring choice while at the same time supporting youth to make decisions that will be in their best interest. What the worker thinks and the young person needs or wants are not always the same thing. Case managers should be patient and persistent in their work with young people using active engagement without coercion. They accomplish this by modelling effective behaviour, being honest and transparent when mistakes happen and guiding youth to learn from their own experiences.

There are many ways that HF4Y programs can give youth opportunities to exercise choice.

What do you think?

Is it important for you to learn new ways to serve the youth you work with? How easy (or difficult) is it for you to stay open to changing the ways you work with people? What conditions facilitate having an open-minded approach? What are blockers to being open-minded? What do you need to support a learning mindset?