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, as government extends and builds on COVID-19 emergency measures.
“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 Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “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— and youth on Independent Living Agreements and Youth Agreements will continue to receive financial support past their 19th birthday — until March 31, 2021.
“I applaud and celebrate this government’s leadership in this response, which will give youth the time to effectively transition from care,” said Katherine McParland, executive director of A Way Home Kamloops. “Continued government support will ensure youth have opportunities to achieve critical developmental milestones, such as education and employment, by providing a solid foundation of a home during COVID-19, as well as ensuring youth do not age out into homelessness. This response shows government is listening to the voices of youth and has created a holistic response that will ensure youth find stabilization and wellness in these unprecedented times.”
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, 2020, 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, 2020, expiry date. In June, government extended the measures until Sept. 30, 2020.
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, 2020. AYA program staff will also be working with young adults in the program to modify agreements where needed.
These interim measures further complement government’s COVID-19 Action Plan to provide income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, businesses and services, as well as the recently announced Economic Recovery Plan.
- The AYA program provides financial support for eligible young adults between the ages of 19 and up until their 27th birthday who are attending an education, vocational, rehabilitation or life-skills program or participating in cultural learning.
- Life-skills programs provide guidance in areas like handling finances, grocery shopping, meal planning and resume writing, to help young people achieve their goals.
- Cultural learning can include things like language learning, learning land-based practices, family mapping, or connecting with cultural knowledge keepers, Elders or cultural mentors.
- Other emergency measures related to the AYA program intended to support young adults through school and program closures due to COVID-19, and allow support past the age of 26 to account for these closures, will come to an end Sept. 30, 2020, as schools and programs resume.
For information on B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan and other government resources and updates, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
Ministry of Children and Family Development response to COVID-19: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/covid-19-information
Further resources for former youth in care: https://agedout.com/
For non-medical related information on COVID-19, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
Or call 1 888 COVID-19
For medical-related information on COVID-19, visit: www.bccdc.ca
Or call 811