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Street Youth Legal Services (SYLS)

Street Youth Legal Services

Street-involved young people often have multiple and interconnected legal problems. Complex barriers, including a lack of financial resources, social isolation and mistrust often prevent our clients from getting the help they need.

SYLS is a program that provides legal information, advice, referrals and representation to street-involved youth through workshops and individual consultations.

SYLS delivers legal services directly to young street-involved people in drop-in centres and shelters – the places where they congregate to access other services, such as health care, food, employment assistance and counseling. It is our goal to educate young people about the value of law to empower even our most vulnerable citizens. SYLS also leads legal education workshops and law reform activities with youth and persons advocating on behalf of street involved youth.

SYLS is a program of Justice for Children and Youth has received over 16 years of funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario; and in 2016, SYLS received core funding for the program from Legal Aid Ontario. For more information about SYLS, please contact us.

Legal Services

The SYLS lawyer will provide legal information, advice, and referrals to all street involved youth that contact JFCY directly or through the drop-in’s.

When selecting clients for legal representation, the following factors will be considered when deciding whether a client is able to be represented by the SYLS lawyer:

  • Is the legal problem a chronic problem for the SYLS population?
  • Is the legal problem a problem unique to the SYLS population?
  • Is the legal problem one that the client has no other potential places to obtain representation or co-ordinated legal help?
  • Does the client have specific vulnerabilities (e.g: age/disability/marginalized) that makes it difficult/impossible for them to effectively access other legal help?
  • Does the SYLS lawyer have time/resources/expertise to represent the client?

Drop-in Schedule

  • Every other Tuesday : 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm: YMCA Drop-in (7 Vanauley Street)
  • Every Thursday: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm – Evergreen Centre for Street Youth (365 Spadina Avenue)
  • First Wednesday of every month4:30 pm – 5:30 pm – Native Youth Resource Centre (655 Bloor Street West)
  • Every Friday: 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm – Covenant House (20 Gerrard St E)

Educational Workshops for Youth and Agency Staff

The SYLS lawyer provides individually tailored educational workshops on a variety of topics. If you would like to book a workshop with the SYLS lawyer, please contact us.

The Street Law Smarts fact sheets were last updated in January 2015 and are available on our Publications page.

SYLS Lawyer’s Presentation – Privacy and Street Stops, 2012

Community Development and Law Reform

In addition to acting on advisory committees for projects focused on youth homelessness, SYLS has two active community development and law reform projects.

43%, 57% and Child Welfare

In 2011, SYLS, the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, and Raising the Roof came together to brainstorm about the glaring problem that many research reports and anecdotal accounts inform us – that 43% of street involved youth have previously had interactions with the child welfare system.  Together, we formed a steering committee titled ‘43%’ to undertake research, community development, policy and law reform activities. This year, we are continuing on our research agenda with a team of students from Pro Bono Students of Canada. We are also seeking connections with stakeholders interested in improving the safety and security of homeless youth leaving child welfare care, or becoming homeless at an early age without the assistance of child welfare agencies.

Youth and Policing Group

Based on a number of consultations with street involved youth over the last two years, our law reform and advocacy activities for 2012-13 will focus on youth records, carding and human rights in policing, provincial offences ticketing options, and the creation of a working definition for youth.

Reports and Other Materials

Visit the Legal Rights section and Publications page for information on legal rights

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