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Newly named SAJE supports offer youth in care a stronger path to adulthood

May 30, 2023 at 11:04 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Youth and young adults who have been in government care in British Columbia are receiving expanded supports through the newly named Strengthening Abilities and Journeys of Empowerment (SAJE) program.

The name was chosen by the ministry’s Youth Advisory Council after online engagement. It reflects a positive approach that celebrates the journey from youth to adulthood.

“The journey from youth to adulthood presents challenges for everyone, but it’s especially hard for young people who have had their connections with family undergo significant changes or disruptions,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “What happens as we transition from youth to adulthood shapes the rest of our lives, which is why we’re working hard to build a system of supports that gives young people who have experienced government care the help they need to thrive.”

Services and supports through SAJE have been available to youth and young adults 19 and older since 2022. The program is continuing to expand and improve.

Recent enhancements include:

  • $600 every two years for glasses and contacts, which has expanded to include eye exams;
  • dental coverage has increased to up to $1,000 a year;
  • expanded housing flexibility for youth between the ages of 19 and 21; and
  • expanding the maximum duration of supports for up to 84 months until age 27.

“I am absolutely thrilled by how the new youth transition to adulthood program expands benefits and supports for young people,” said Seb Hable, member of the Minister’s Youth Advisory Council, who led the youth engagement process. “The new program will play a vital role in enhancing access to crucial tools such as education, life skills and financial assistance.”

Further amendments coming into effect in spring 2024 will make emergency pandemic housing supports permanent. This will enable the ministry to support all young adults from care up to the age 27, something it didn’t previously have the mandate and legal authority to do.

These additional enhancements to the SAJE program build on initial supports, including a no-limit earnings exemption, and rent supplements of $600 a month to help with housing costs as young adults begin to live independently. As of May 2023, more than 1,100 young adults from care have received monthly rent supplements. The next application period will open in fall 2023.

To help youth and young adults navigate the supports available to them, the ministry is hiring new workers. SAJE “navigators” support youth in care as young as 14 by working together to identify goals and develop, and support a plan to transition from care. SAJE “guides” connect young adults from care to supports and services and assist them in achieving their goals through to their 25th birthday.

The ministry’s Youth Advisory Council, a group of young adults who use their lived experience with the government’s care system to improve the quality of care for B.C. children and youth, were instrumental in developing the new SAJE program name.

Learn More:

To find out more about improved supports for youth transitioning from care, visit: https://www.gov.bc.ca/youthtransitions

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