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)

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

Just Posted

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch 94-year-old in Saanich earns permanent Canadian residency

Couple of 45 years to stay together in Cadboro Bay

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Ron MacDonnell leans over the railing on Beacon Wharf Tuesday afternoon. The Town of City is currently looking into the future of the aging structure. It could make way for a concrete pontoon once part of the floating bridge over Hood Canal in Washington State. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney explores public-private partnership for iconic Beacon Wharf

Wharf committee recommends town invite pontoon company to submit proposal

Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is shown during a news conference in Ottawa in 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
Isolating provinces is a bad idea, says Canadian Chamber of Commerce

National business organization calls for cohesive approach to COVID-19 measures

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

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

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Most Read