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.

Just Posted

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

Sun on its way after Greater Victoria sees wettest July in six years

Environment Canada meteorologists say the drizzle is likely to end soon

Mayor’s charity tournament sells out both Bear Mountain courses

23rd annual event raises funds to make ‘a positive difference in Langford’

After Victoria dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

VIDEO: 1,400 classic cars roll into Victoria for Deuce Days

The four-day festival highlights classic hot rods, with a special emphasis on cars built in 1932

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Most Read