For immediate release
April 1, 2020
Fostering Change Youth Organizers Welcome Government’s Plan to Stop Youth from Aging Out of Services During the Covid19 Crisis
VANCOUVER, BC – Fostering Change is pleased to see the provincial government is responding to concerns about youth ‘aging out of care’ in this pandemic. Today’s announcement stated youth who turn 19 during the COVID-19 pandemic will have their care agreements extended, and that those on the Agreements with Young Adults Program will continue to receive support. This is good news for youth in government care.
“We’re pleased that the government listened to the voices of youth,” commented Susan Russell, Fostering Change’s Campaign Organizer. “Aging out during the COVID-19 pandemic magnifies the risk of youth from care becoming homeless and sick.”
Each year, approximately 1,000 youth turn 19 and age out of government care and financial support. Without adequate government support many youth find themselves living in deep poverty and often become homeless.
Fostering Change’s dedicated team of Community Organizers, including staff members, are all current and former youth in care.
Last week, Fostering Change launched an online petition calling for a moratorium on aging out during this pandemic. As the legal guardian, the government’s responsibility to youth should not end once they turn nineteen – now more than ever youth need support to be healthy and housed. The petition gathered over 550 signatures in only a few days.
“Often, our needs as youth in care aren’t included in discussions about health and safety. Despite being isolated, and uncertain, we were able to highlight our voices, and show that our needs matter. That was reflected in the community participation, and we feel cared about.” - Soraya Bellou, Fostering Change Community Organizer
The lived expertise of Fostering Change Organizers illustrates what youth from care are facing in relation to COVID-19:
- Youth are struggling to afford and access nutritious food.
- Youth have become unable to afford basic necessities for hygiene.
- Youth have lost employment-related sources of income.
- Youth’s professional and community supports are closed, making isolation even more challenging to those with mental health challenges.
“We’re glad to see the Ministry and representatives from the care community are working together to ensure that youth in and from government care have the services and support they need during this unprecedented time.” - Lorena Bishop, Executive Director, Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks.
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and Fostering Change thank government for their action to extend care for youth during this pandemic. And we will continue to urge them to use a comprehensive and universal lens of support to bring a sense of stability, safety and health for the well-being of our youth at all times.
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition is a non-partisan coalition of 108 provincial and regional organizations who have united their voices to put children and youth first in BC through public education, community mobilization, and public policy advocacy. Fostering Change is a campaign by and for youth from government care hosted by First Call.
For more information and interviews call Susan Russell, Fostering Change Campaign Organizer
[email protected] - 204-803-3963