Colleen McDowell signed A Comprehensive Action Plan 2018-09-08 04:35:16 -0700My three grandchildren went into foster care five years ago. The two youngest were adopted three years later and are very happy. The eldest moved into independent living just before becoming an adult but lacked the life skills most youth acquire from stable home life. She still struggles to complete high school and get the necessary credits to qualify for university courses. Her tuition will be covered but she must also work to supplement funding provided by the government. The added stress of worrying about having sufficient money to pay rent, utilities, food and other necessities is a constant source of stress for her, making it very difficult for her to study and complete assignments on time and aggravating her eating and anxiety disorders. She has been fortunate to have found near-affordable accommodation but lives in constant fear that she may be forced to move. The prospect of finding housing in the current rental crisis adds yet another level of stress. She is grateful for the government assistance but is often overwhelmed and doesn’t have the coping methods that would have been instilled by constant, reliable, parental guidance and support. Of the youth aged out of care she is one of the more stable and fortunate ones. That is both sad and unacceptable in a such a wealthy province.934 signatures
On April 11, we heard official youth transition stats from Ministry of Children and Family Development representatives. They told us that 87% of eligible, post-19 youth from government care are not accessing MCFD Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) services. AYAs are the primary way MCFD supports the 1000 youth who age out of care every year. It tells us that the program intervention the government has relied on for years is not working.
Premier Horgan told us that the government is working on an action plan: let's ensure it's comprehensive.
Decision makers are listening and it's time for us to act. On Thursday, April 12, Premier John Horgan responded on behalf of six ministries to our policy asks made on October 24. He made a commitment to "expand and improve supports to youth transitioning from care through the development of an action plan to be created by the Cross-Ministry working group."
It's government-speak, but represents a milestone for the youth-in-care community. We successfully nudged the creation of a cross-ministry task force dedicated to achieving better outcomes.
We know that better outcomes come from comprehensive, evidence-based policy, and that youth must be included in planning. Youth from care are experts in understanding policy impacts. This expertise is essential to creating a successful action plan.
Please sign our call for a comprehensive action plan
"Premier Horgan, it's essential that bold changes are made for youth from care after 19. In your mandate letter to Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy, you said that you expect substantive progress in funding increases to Agreements with Young Adults "in order to offer supports to all youth aging out of care who need it, not just a few." Your Cross-Ministry action plan must ensure:
- Guaranteed, consistent, and adequate financial support until age 25 through the Agreements with Young Adults program, eliminating all eligibility criteria.
- Government and youth from care advocates come together before the fall legislature to hear youth input and explore universal AYA policy development."
Most young adults in BC can count on financial support, relationships and family connections to help them get a good start in life. However, that’s not the case for everyone.
Cut off from support at 19, youth aging out of foster care too often end up homeless, don’t finish high school, and have no one to turn to in their 20’s.
But you can change this.
Sign the petition today, and help write the future with youth aging out of foster care.
“We believe youth aging out of foster care should be able to count on three things until age 25:
Consistent financial support with basic living costs like housing, transit, and food while they attend school, learn skills, and find work.
Long-term relationships with caring dependable adults for support, advice, and references, so that they always have somewhere to turn.
A chance to connect and contribute to their communities through creative, cultural, and volunteer activities, so that they feel like they belong.
We believe this will make a difference, and ask community, political, and business leaders to commit to a plan that includes these supports.”