October 26, 2021
Youth From Foster Care Meet with Government Ministers for Fourth Annual Policy Solutions Day
(Vancouver B.C) On Monday October 25, Fostering Change Community Organizers held eight meetings with provincial government ministers and their senior staff to brief them on issues facing youth who turn 19 and age out of government care.
Over the course of the day, 20+ youth participated, meeting with ministers including Minister Dean, Minister Simons, Minister Malcolmson, and Minister Eby, and with MLA Brittany Anderson (Special Advisor to Premier Horgan). This fourth annual Policy Solutions Day provided an opportunity for youth to explain how the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) Program is failing many youth who age out of care and how the program can be improved.
“It is always powerful to witness these youth tell their own stories to policymakers,” commented organizer, Susan Russell-Csanyi. “We are committed to holding government to account and advocating for greater support as youth transition from care to young adulthood. We believe every youth deserves to look forward to their 19th birthday.”
In BC, other than the post-secondary tuition waiver program for youth from care, the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) Program is the only support program serving youth once they have turned 19 and aged out of government care. The program supports youth who are attending an educational, training, or life skills program, or a rehabilitation program. The AYA Program provides a maximum of $1,250 per month which falls short of the cost of living and leaves youth without necessities, including housing, and community and cultural support.
In 2019/20, 763 youth aged out of government care and were eligible for a benefit payment from the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program. Only 40% of eligible youth accessed at least one AYA payment in that year. Additionally, many youth are not ready to take advantage of the tuition waiver program when they first transition out of care at 19.
- Government must ensure that no youth leaves government care without comprehensive support including
– adequate housing;
– sufficient financial assistance; and
– accessible community and cultural supports.
- Youth who are aging out of care should be automatically enrolled into support programs regardless of the time spent in care or their care status.
- Government should take a readiness-based, not age-based, approach to youth in care and ensure no youth abruptly loses support when they turn 19.
First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society works with a non-partisan, cross-sectoral network of partner organizations to put BC children and youth first in public awareness and public policy. We conduct research and analysis on child and youth rights and well-being, offer education and training events, and make policy recommendations to promote, strengthen and defend the rights of children and youth in BC. Fostering Change is a First Call program comprising over 130 youth with lived experience in the child welfare system.
For more information or interviews please contact Helesia Luke at email@example.com or call 604-288-8102
Read the full policy brief here.