Government is providing $315,000 to support the establishment of a mentorship program for 16-to 24-year-olds that will be delivered through Covenant House Vancouver.
The program, currently in development, will match youth and young adults to trained mentors and advisors who have experienced a level of success in their own lives and can help link young people to contacts in a range of employment and educational sectors.
Volunteer intake will be ongoing and potential mentors will be recruited and screened by volunteer co-ordinators. Covenant House Vancouver will host mentorship events each year where mentors and interested youth can interact, discover common interests and explore any natural connections. After these events, youth will identify mentors they are interested in working with and the Mentorship Coordinator will facilitate the connection. The program will also support youth who are interested in simply accessing mentors on an ad hoc or short-term advisory basis.
Access to Covenant House Vancouver’s network of influential business leaders, philanthropists, legislators and educators will be a key facet of the mentorship program. In addition, youth mentees will have access to Covenant House Vancouver’s continuum of care, which includes:
- A full-service, low-barrier drop-in centre.
- Residential programs.
- Life skills training.
- Literacy development.
- Pre-employment skill building.
- Professional mental health and addictions services.
- Long-term housing support.
- Recreational programming.
The mentorship program will be available to all youth who are currently accessing Covenant House Vancouver’s services and to new participants through Covenant House’s Drop-in Centre or who may be referred from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The new program aligns with the spirit of B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week (June 1-8, 2015), which gives British Columbians an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the individuality, accomplishments, resilience, talents and contributions of all B.C. children and youth in care, including youth engaged in out-of-care options, such as Youth Agreements. Increased awareness and recognition can help combat the negative stereotypes and social stigmas that many of these children and youth face.
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development -
“When any young adult leaves government care, we need to help set them up for success. This mentorship program - like our recently announced investment in the Strive program - will help connect young people to available resources and opportunities, while empowering them to explore and fulfil their goals for adulthood. I’m pleased to say there is more good news on way and we will be announcing further supports for youth in the coming weeks.”
Krista Thompson, executive director, Covenant House -
“Youth transitioning out of care, like so many young people, are eager to get on with their life and are looking for inspiration, advice and ideas about shaping their future. We know that a robust support network is an important resource for youth when they are thinking about options and future career opportunities.”
- Covenant House Vancouver was established in 1997 and is a registered charity. Each year, Covenant House provides food, shelter, clothing and counselling to 1,470 youth and young adults, many of whom have fled abuse at home or have aged out of the foster care system.
- The mentorship program is meant to complement the range of existing supports and services that help young people from care transition to independence.
- The Youth Educational Assistance Fund (YEAF) supports post-secondary education and training for former youth in care through bursaries of $5,500 per educational year, up to a maximum of four times, to assist with tuition, books and fees.
- Since the fund was created in 2002, the ministry has contributed $10.3 million to the program and more than 1,350 youth have received YEAF bursaries.
- Agreements with Young Adults provide financial assistance to youth formerly in care or on a Youth Agreement to upgrade their education or take part in a rehabilitative program.
- Nearly 1,700 young adults have benefited from Agreements with Young Adults since the program was established in 2008.
- Last week, MCFD provided a further $250,000 to extend and expand the YWCA’s Strive program, which offers under-employed former youth in care between the ages of 17-24 hands-on guidance in life skills like financial literacy, time management, decision-making and problem solving that are key to living independently.
- On Jan. 22, 2014, Coast Capital Savings committed $200,000 to help former youth in care access post-secondary education.
- Tuition waivers are now available at many B.C. post-secondary institutions for eligible students who have been in government care.
Covenant House Vancouver: www.covenanthousebc.org
Agreements with Young Adults: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/youth/aya.htm
Youth Education Assistance Fund: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/yeaf/index.htm
MCFD youth programs and services: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/youth/index.htm
Coast Capital Savings has initiated a post-secondary fund for former youth in care: www.coastcapitalsavings.com/About_Coast_Capital_Savings/Press_Advertising/News_Releases/Jan22,2014/
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Children and Family Development
Development and Communications
Covenant House Vancouver