Tuesday March 15, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Today the BC Government announced a more cohesive system of supports for young people who age out of government care. No longer will they be abandoned at age 19 and left to fend for themselves to build an adult life.
The new supports will be available for young adults up to age 27.
For some people this will fly under the radar. But for youth who have been raised in government care, this is a big deal.
Minister Dean in the lead:
Today Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development, was excited to make the livestreamed announcement. She has spent most of her career in the family support and social services sector.
“This change is driven by the voice of youth in govt care and advocates,” Minister Dean said today.
She explained that for many years “the ministry had just a patchwork of programs”.
She and other speakers today expressed how youth aging out of care at age 19 — without the supports that other youth presumably have from family — experience the exit from care “as a cliff as a precipice”.
“There was only one program with a lot of barriers around it,” said Dean.
“The Ministry has been hearing for a long time” from youth and advocates, that these changes needed to be made, said Minister Dean today.
There was “a lot of consultation” from about 2,500 young people as well as stakeholders, service providers, advocates, and caregivers.
Some improvements have been made along the way. “We made changes from 2017,” said Dean. There were changes in 2018 to the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program, And the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training launched a new tuition waver.
“But we continued to hear that we need to really build a system that is available to young people,” said Mitzi Dean today. She explained that her ministry created “a suite of services that is going to help them to be successfully transitioning to whatever their pathway of independence is”.
Support from across government:
Dean was proud to say that this is “the first time in BC that we worked across govt to create a system to support young people who are leaving government care”.
Youth in care will start hearing about the supports from age 14, to help them transition to independence.
“They want to have dedicated people there to support them,” says Dean.
Budget 2022 investments will better support this process of youth transitioning to adulthood. The Province will invest nearly $35 million over three years, including increases of $4.6 million in 2022-23 as well as $10 million in 2023-24 and $19.8 million in 2024-25.
Thrive, not survive:
“Now we will be increasing the support to help young people to navigate this new system and make sure they access all the supports that are going to be beneficial to them,” says Dean. “They want to thrive, not survive.”
“It’s so important to hear from them as to how to build the system. They’ve been on a long journey with us,” said Dean today.
People who have been in government care are far more likely to experience homelessness or a mental-health crisis in their lives, according to the Ministry of Children and Family Development. “Budget 2022 investments aimed at supporting strong transitions for former youth in care are part of a $633 million cross-government strategy to prevent homelessness and keep people housed,” the Ministry states.
About 1,100 youth per year:
Approximately 1,100 youth transition to adulthood from government care each year. Of those, 46 percent are Indigenous.
During the period January 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021, emergency housing and the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program measures reached 625 of 59 percent of the 1,068 AYA-eligible young adults who turned 19.
===== GOVERNMENT LINKS:
Budget 2022: https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2022/
Agreements with Young Adults program:
Further resources for former youth in care: https://agedout.com/
To have your say on how new supports and services for youth and young adult from care are implemented, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/youthtransitions/