The BC Representative for Children and Youth noted in a 2014 report that existing processes and resources for youth leaving care do not adequately support a successful transition to adulthood. Former youth in care say recent improvements do not address larger issues. (Keri Coles/News staff)

B.C. youth aging out of foster care call for serious child welfare reform

Youth rally on steps of legislature, meet with policy makers to discuss much needed changes

More than 40 B.C. youth who have experienced living in government care descended on the legislature Wednesday, calling for changes to the child welfare system.

The group met with multiple cabinet ministers and youth transition organizations as part of Fostering Change, an advocacy campaign, to push for more comprehensive supports for youth who are set to leave care, as opposed to the current “needs-based funding” approach.

“No one should fear their 19th birthday,” said Dylan Cohen, youth organizer for Fostering Change who formerly lived in government care.

“When I see my siblings age out, we shudder for them, knowing that 19 is like being pushed off a cliff,” he explained. “We lose our social worker, our funding, our foster home, all because of an arbitrary age that is defined in legislation.”

The government needs a better approach, Cohen said.

RELATED: West Shore foster parents needed

Approximately 1,000 youth age out of care every year in B.C.

In a 2014 report, the Office Representative of Children and Youth noted existing processes and resources for youth leaving care do not adequately support a successful transition to adulthood.

More than 50 per cent of youth from care access income assistance or persons with disabilities funding within six months of aging out of care.

In Metro Vancouver’s Youth Homeless Count, 55 per cent of the 681 youth found experiencing homelessness had spent time in care.

The province tried to help address the issue in the 2018 budget, increasing funding for the Agreements with a Young Adult (AYA) program, which helps cover the cost of housing, child care, tuition and healthcare for youth from care that go back to school, attend rehabilitation, vocational or approved life skills program.

RELATED: High cost of living means fewer foster families

But youth advocates say the current supports present yet another barrier for an already marginalized population, because the requirements for accessing support can be unattainable for many who are struggling to cope with childhood trauma.

“It is important to meet youth where they are,” said youth advocate Emily Jackson. “One of the requirements for getting into AYA is to take a 75 per cent full course load and that just wasn’t feasible for me and a lot of my friends who were in the care system.”

Adil Walker-Chagani, another youth formerly in government care, hoped Wednesday’s actions would bring about the much needed changes.

“What they really forget is that everyone that goes to the ministry for help has barriers, has struggles,” said Walker-Chagani. “As much as getting housing and budgeting helps us, without helping our mental health it can screw everything up.”

RELATED: Foster care is ‘superhighway to homelessness,’ B.C. youth advocate says

The change in supports that youth are calling for is about developing relational and peer supports for a young person’s journey, explained fellow youth advocate Ruby Barclay.

“If we are talking about transitioning them into community, we need a community there for them to transition into,” Barclay said. “It shouldn’t be a cliff, it should be walking into a community of support.”


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Foster youth

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria woman loses $2,500 to scammer spoofing VicPD phone number

VicPD warns against sharing personal information, sending money to strangers

Victoria police conduct under review after arrest on Pandora Avenue

Police say man was screaming and walking into traffic before being taken into custody

Investigation launched after sudden death of Saanich inmate

B.C. Corrections, B.C. Coroners Service investigating cause, circumstances surrounding death

Oak Bay officer injured while breaking up party

Party-goers yell ‘f*** the blue,’ say police

Victoria officer injured arresting robbery suspect

Woman faces charges including robbery with a weapon, assaulting a police officer

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

BC Wildfire Service to conduct night vision trials for helicopters in South Okanagan

This technology could assist with future firefighting operations

Victoria man dies after skydiving incident on Vancouver Island

34-year-old had made more than 1,000 jumps

UPDATE: Missing Langford teens found safe

Pair were headed to Lake Cowichan/Youbou area, last heard from in North Cowichan

Following incident at sea, fishing lodge says it will reopen despite Haida travel ban

QCL reopens July 10, says president; Haida chief councillor describes ‘dangerous’ boating encounter

Kamloops RCMP officer’s conduct under review after blackface jokes on social media

Meinke’s Instagram is private and it’s unclear when the posts were made

NHL says 35 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 8

Positive rate for the league is just under 6%

Most Read