Government’s goal is to ensure that youth who have been in care have appropriate supports in place to help them successfully transition into adulthood.
The ministry is responsible for providing child protection services to children and youth up to their 19th birthday under the Child, Family and Community Services Act (CFCSA). However, the ministry can provide supports to youth and young adults who are transitioning out of care through Agreements with Young Adults.
The following programs, services and initiatives are in place to support youth in care, as they transition to adulthood and independence:
Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program
- As of January 2018, more than 2,880 young adults have benefited from AYA since the program was established in 2008.
- Under the AYA program, eligible youth who have been in care can receive funding to cover living expenses while they finish high school, or attend post-secondary, life skills and/or rehabilitation programs.
- Government has invested $7.7 million in 2018–19 to enhance and expand the AYA program, with these changes taking place April 1, 2018:
- The upper age limit for eligibility is increased by one year, providing needs-based funding for youth age 19-26, inclusive (up to the day of their 27th birthday).
- Funding is now available for up to 12 months per year, up from the prior eight-month limit. The maximum duration that a young adult can be on an AYA remains 48 months.
- The maximum monthly funding a young person can receive has increased by $250 per month to a new monthly cap of $1,250.
- Existing AYA contracts may be modified to reflect this expansion, effective April 1, 2018.
- The following programs were introduced in 2016 to keep current and former youth in care informed and connected.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) partnered with TELUS and their the Keeping Young Adults Connected program to offer up to 1,000 free smartphones, data plans and low-cost internet for young adults on AYA.
- The Laptops for Learning program is a partnership between MCFD, IBM Canada and the Ministry of Citizens’ Services to provide Lenovo laptop computers at no charge to young adults from government care between the ages of 19 to 21, who are currently receiving funding under the AYA program, and attending a post-secondary institution.
Learning Fund for Young Adults
- Since fiscal year 2014–15, MCFD has provided $250,000 per year in funding for the Learning Fund for Young Adults (LFYA), an education fund for former children and youth in care.
- MCFD has provided $616,000 over 4 years in one-time-only funding to support the YWCA’s Strive program, a program that helps youth leaving care prepare for independence.
- YWCA Metro Vancouver began piloting the Strive program for youth, aged 17–24, that were transitioning or had transitioned out of foster care as a result of a $249,000 investment from the ministry in 2014.
- A key component of Strive is the Individualized Action Plan (IAP) that is established in the first four weeks of the program. With help from a social worker, youth set their own goals for their IAPs, which take into consideration their personal life experiences. They are tailored to meet their unique needs, whether it is to find employment, a safe place to live or to return to school.
Take the Wheel
- In 2017, ICBC funded Take the Wheel, a $50,000-bursary to help youth in care learn to drive. In partnership with the government and the Federation of B.C. Youth in Care Networks (FBCYICN), the bursary supports driver training for young adults from around B.C.
Tuition Waiver Program
- In Budget 2018, the government announced $2 million per year, over three years, for a total $6 million, to fund the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program. As of Sept. 1, 2017, former youth in care, aged 19–27, who were in an eligible care status for at least 24 months, are eligible for free tuition at any of B.C.’s 25 public post-secondary institutions.
Affordable and supported housing
- In February 2018, a new five-bed, low-barrier home opened in East Vancouver. Using a “no questions asked” approach, the home is available to vulnerable teens — including those who may need support in taking the first steps to overcome drug or alcohol issues.
- Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), MCFD and Directions Youth Services — a division of Family Services of Greater Vancouver — have partnered to provide the home, which will care for up to 120 youth each year, offer temporary housing, as well as substance use, mental-health and public-health supports on-site.
- VCH is also partnering with Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) to provide 10 new youth beds at two homes; one for 16 to 18-year-olds, and another for 19 to 24-year-olds, including those transitioning out of government care. The two homes are located in Vancouver and were purchased by BC Housing.
- In June 2015, a new nine-storey supportive housing building opened in Vancouver named Kwayatsut, from the Coast Salish language, providing homes for vulnerable youth and young adults, as well as supports and services for mental and physical health, addiction and living skills. http://pcrs.ca/our-services/kwayatsut/
- MCFD contributed $6 million toward this project, of the $18.8 million provided by government for development. The funding administration now resides with the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) and the rest of the Vancouver Native Housing Society portfolio.
Mentorship Program — Covenant House
- In May 2015, MCFD provided $315,000 to support the establishment of a youth and young adult mentorship program for 16 to 24-year-olds, and delivered through Covenant House in Vancouver.
- To June 30, 2017, there have been 25 matches since the program launched in November 2015.
- A mentorship toolkit is currently being created, along with a new initiative that will create a mentorship group specifically for female youth in crisis.
Youth Educational Assistance Fund (YEAF)
- A Youth Education Assistance Fund provides funding for education-related expenses to eligible youth who have been in care.
- Eligible youth may receive a YEAF bursary of up to $5,500 per educational year, to a maximum of four times. The bursary can be used for tuition, books, fees, tools and living expenses.
- Eligible youth must attend a designated post-secondary school that has been accredited and approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. The designated post-secondary institution does not have to be in B.C.
- AgedOut.com is a website that uses interactive learning modules, real-time chat and text-to-speech technology to provide young adults who are transitioning out of government care with resources and accessible information to aid their successful transition to independence.
- AgedOut.com has been funded $200,000 by MCFD via stand-alone agreements each year since fiscal year 2015–16 through the adoptions budget.
- Four program ambassadors, known as AgedOut connectors, have been hired to facilitate workshops with youth, government staff and other community service providers and make presentations on the AgedOut program.
Collaboration and Partners
- MCFD works closely with Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks (FBCYICN), which provides support, transition and advocacy services to youth in, and from, care and youth receiving ministry services.
MCFD also works with other ministries to deliver an array of programs and services that support youth transitioning from care. These include housing options, counselling, addictions counselling, and education and life skills assistance