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Province supporting youth in care

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:55 PDT, Mon September 21, 2020

Youth in government care will be able to stay where they are, and those who have recently aged out of care will receive extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This pandemic is not over. I want youth in care to be assured that they will be able to continue receiving the supports they count on and won’t have the added stress of aging out during these challenging times,” said Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy. “Especially right now, youth in our care need and deserve to feel supported and safe and our government wants to make sure that happens.”

To ensure youth who are set to age out of care continue to have a safe place to stay during the pandemic, youth currently living in foster care, contracted residential agencies or with relatives through the extended family program, will be able to stay in their placements past their 19th birthday.

For the next year, government will also maintain emergency measures that allow easier access to life-skills supports and rehabilitation supports through the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program. This includes allowing young adults in the program to take part in a wider range of life-skills programs and cultural learning options, as well as online programming, with fewer required hours of participation per week. As of Oct. 1, more flexibility is being granted for young adults to access mental health and rehabilitative supports while participating in the AYA program—along with a lower hourly requirement for these programs.

“We’ve heard from youth and youth advocates that easily accessible life-skills and mental health supports are an important stepping-stone between aging out of care and living as an adult and we saw that these initiatives we brought in during the pandemic proved successful in reaching a broad range of youth from care,” Conroy said. “Not everyone is ready to go to school or start working right away, so we’re making it easier for young adults to get the supports they need to thrive.”

Government first announced emergency measures in March with a June 30 expiry date. In June, government extended the measures until Sept. 30.

Social workers will continue transition planning with young adults who are ready to move on from their placement. For youth who are about to age out of care and need additional supports, social workers will be working to make needed changes to housing agreements so that young adults can stay in place past Sept. 30. AYA program staff will also be working with young adults in the program to modify agreements where needed.

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

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