July 29, 2020 VIA E-Mail
Susan Russell and Anita Shen
Dear Susan and Anita:
Thank you for your e-mail addressed to the Honourable John Horgan, Premier, regarding your concern for youth and young adults transitioning out of government care. As the Minister of Children and Family Development, I am pleased to respond on the Premier's behalf.
I very much appreciated your comment that our efforts over the past two years have demonstrated commitment to the young adults who were in ministry care. I acknowledge more work is needed to support these young adults, and the suggestions you shared in your letter regarding improving outcomes for young adults transitioning out of care are very helpful to us.
As you know, we have conducted extensive engagements to hear the stories and experiences of young adults from care, caregivers, and youth-serving organizations, Delegated Aboriginal Agencies and ministry staff. To reflect these voices, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) developed the report What We Heard About Youth Transitions and the Family Based Caregiver Payment Model in British Columbia in February 2019.
The outcomes of these engagements continue to inform the policies and practices of MCFD, with the intent of improving youth transitions for young adults from care and the Agreements with Young Adults program (AYA).
The great ideas that were generated in these engagements also allowed MCFD to quickly implement temporary COVID-19 Emergency Measures, which were referred to in your letter. We are working to ensure that youth and young adults do not encounter additional barriers to prevent them from receiving the services and supports they need, and we value the input from youth-serving organizations such as yours.
With regard to your recommendations for counselling and mental health support for young adults from care, MCFD will continue exploring what this may look like in the future. Although there is no universal mental health program for young adults from care, there are many online virtual resources available to youth and young adults during this time. Some of there resources are available on Mental Health Support for Children & Youth During COVID-19 Web site. A few notable examples include:
- Here2Talk offers confidential, free, single-session service by app, phone, or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to students
- Foundry offers virtual drop-in counselling sessions by voice, video and chat to young people ages 12-24. Recently, Foundry services have expanded to service eight more communities.
I understand that First Call has been having weekly discussions with MCFD executive staff to share youth and young adult perspectives and concerns. I am grateful for these opportunities and for the input youth from Fostering Change have raised directly with me. and I would like to thank you for your continued support and advocacy.
Thank you for taking the time to write.