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Youth from care benefit from new life-changing supports

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 10:30 PDT, Tue September 27, 2022

New rent supplements, transition workers, and a no-limit earnings exemption are aiming to help youth from care make stronger transitions to adulthood.

"Like all young people, youth in and from government care need support to reach their full potential," said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. "We're doing what any parent would do—supporting these incredible young people in pursuing education and training, learning life skills, starting their careers, and making a strong transition to adulthood. I would like to thank all current and former members of the Youth Advisory Council who played a critical role in shaping these new youth transition supports."

The latest package of supports for young people transitioning from government care includes:

• Youth Transition Support Workers who will support youth in care starting at age 14 and guide them in accessing services until they are 25. Hiring is underway.

• A $600-a-month rent supplement to help with rental costs in the private market as young people from care transition to adulthood. Applications will open soon.

• A new no-limit earnings exemption that means youth from care will not see a reduction in benefits for working, gaining skills, and earning income. The program, which came into effect in August 2022, gives incentives and supports the pursuit of employment and paid training programs.

"As someone with lived experience in B.C.'s broken care system, I'm incredibly happy to see that our government has finally taken the initiative to ensure there is support for youth transitioning from care into adulthood," said Aspen Telford, member of the Minister's Youth Advisory Council. "Although long overdue, these new supports will be the start to setting us up for success. We will receive guidance and support extended beyond the age 19, creating stability in our lives. Allowing us to access and secure housing, focus on our healing, our education, and our futures to go from foster care, to actually going somewhere."

These new stronger supports from the province were discussed last weekend at the first in-person meeting since March 2020 of the Minister's Youth Advisory Council. The council, made up of young people in and from government care, played a key advisory role in developing the new support framework.

Since 2017, B.C. has led Canada in improving supports for youth transitioning to adulthood from government care. This latest package of supports builds on existing programs, including a tuition waiver program for B.C. students who are former youth in care up to their 27th birthday and are attending a B.C. public post-secondary institution. In addition, the monthly financial assistance to youth in the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program will be increased by $250, making supports available for the full calendar year, and an extra year of program eligibility will be added taking young adults to their 27th birthday.

Emergency supports introduced during COVID-19 have been extended or made permanent:
• Housing agreements that allow youth in and from care to continue living where they are until age 21 have been extended indefinitely and will be made permanent.

• Individualized life skills options, including online programming for young adults on the AYA program, have been made permanent.

• The requirement for young adults to have to access a life-skill program from a pre-approved list has been removed permanently, making it easier to access programming.

About 1,100 youth transition to adulthood from government care each year, 46 per cent of whom are Indigenous. The number of young adults receiving supports after turning 19 has increased by 29 per cent to 1,657 since before the pandemic. As part of Budget 2022, the province invested nearly $35 million over three years to improve supports for young people from care transitioning to adulthood,

To learn more about Youth Transitions, click here.

To learn more about the Agreements with Young Adults program, click here.

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