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‘A rare, incredible day’: Advocates celebrate new supports for B.C. youth in care

The province has committed $35 million to increase support for youth in care up to age 27
Advocates have long called for changes to better support youth in care. This 2018 file photo shows a protester on the steps of the B.C. Legislature calling for improved supports. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

The province has announced further details about funding commitments to support youth transition out of the foster care system.

In the 2022 budget, the province committed nearly $35 million to extend support for youth in care to age 27. Previously, youth aged out of care at 19, leaving them with virtually no support which advocates have called a “highway to homelessness”.

The new system will be developed and implemented over the next three years, however, the province has granted an immediate extension to temporary housing supports that allows youth in care to stay in their home until they turn 21. That extension was put into place during the pandemic and will remain in place indefinitely.

Over the next three years, the system will be overhauled to provide a slate of new supports including a one-year financial support of $1,250 a month for youth between age 19 and 20, a $600 rent supplement, creating a no-limit earnings exemption which will incentivize youth to pursue their career and earn income on top of supports, expand dental and medical benefits, and providing youth with dedicated transition workers at age 14 to help them navigate government programs.

Minister of Children and Family Development Mitzi Dean was asked if the province would offer support to former youth in care who have aged out but remain under the age of 27. She did not provide any specific details on if the province would extend that support, but said there will be an “implementation of different aspects of the system” as the government moves forward with the new changes. She reiterated that the province will support youth from care up to the age of 27.

Approximately 1,100 youth age out of care every year. When the new changes are fully implemented, the government expects support will be available to up to 10,000 eligible youth and young adults a year.

Cammy Lawson is a member of the B.C. Youth Advisory Council and former youth in care. They described the changes as a ‘rare, incredible day’ for progress.

“Most of the time, many of us feel like we’re up against an unmovable object that we can’t seem to scale,” Lawson said. “This is the biggest change and improvement I’ve seen. It’s a day that I hope every youth and every advocate remembers on the days they feel like there’s no way to change the system. Because today we did.”

READ MORE: Aging out of care: youth face growing risk of homelessness

READ MORE: The main takeaways from B.C.’s budget 2022


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