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B.C. extends pandemic supports for youth aging out of government care

Last Updated Sep 20, 2020 at 6:14 pm PDT

Katrine Conroy (Courtesy Katrine Conroy, Facebook)
Summary

Youth in government care will be able to stay where they are a little longer

The arrangements extend to youth currently living in foster care, contracted residential agencies or with relatives

The arrangements will be in effect until the end of March

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Youth in government care will be able to stay where they are and those who have recently aged out will receive extra support, the province announced Sunday as it extends COVID-19 emergency measures.

“This pandemic is not over. I want youth in care to be assured that they will be able to continue receiving the supports they count on and won’t have the added stress of aging out during these challenging times,” Katrine Conroy, minister of Children and Family Development, says in a release.

“Especially right now, youth in our care need and deserve to feel supported and safe and our government wants to make sure that happens.”

The arrangements extend to youth currently living in foster care, contracted residential agencies or with relatives through the extended family program. They will be able to stay in their placements past their 19th birthdays

In place until March

The arrangements will be in effect until the end of March.

“Continued government support will ensure youth have opportunities to achieve critical developmental milestones, such as education and employment, by providing a solid foundation of a home during COVID-19, as well as ensuring youth do not age out into homelessness,” says Katherine McParland, executive director of A Way Home Kamloops.

For the next year, the government will also maintain emergency measures that allow easier access to life-skills supports and rehabilitation supports through the Agreements with Young Adults program.

This includes allowing young adults in the program to take part in a wider range of life-skills programs and cultural learning options, as well as online programming, with fewer required hours of participation per week.

‘More flexibility’

As of Oct. 1, more flexibility is being granted for young adults to access mental health and rehabilitative supports while participating in the AYA program — along with a lower hourly requirement for these programs.

“We’ve heard from youth and youth advocates that easily accessible life-skills and mental health supports are an important stepping-stone between aging out of care and living as an adult and we saw that these initiatives we brought in during the pandemic proved successful in reaching a broad range of youth from care,” Conroy says.

“Not everyone is ready to go to school or start working right away, so we’re making it easier for young adults to get the supports they need to thrive.”

Government first announced emergency measures in March with a June 30 expiry date. In June, government extended the measures until Sept. 30.

The youth in care extension was one of 16 announcements by the provincial government on Sunday.