Expanded supports help youth from care achieve independence

Young adults, who have spent time in government care, will now get more financial support for rent, child care and health care while they go back to school or attend a rehabilitation, vocational or approved life skills program.

The changes are made possible by a new investment of $7.7 million in the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) Program for 2018-19.

As of April 1, 2018, the AYA Program will be expanded:

  • Adding an extra year of eligibility to align with the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program by raising the upper age limit to the 27th birthday.
  • Increasing the needs-based monthly support rate by up to $250, to a new maximum of $1,250.
  • Allowing for year-round financial support instead of the previous eight-month limit, so young people can continue to receive supports while on program breaks, e.g., through the summer months.

“Parents recognize that – with today’s cost of living – young adults need time to figure out their path and steady support to get where they want to go,” said Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy. “That’s especially true for children and youth in government care, and it’s why we’re increasing financial support, making our programs more flexible and keeping the door open longer to help them access the right supports when they’re ready.”

“Knowing that there’s more support, year round and to my 27th birthday, I feel peace of mind that my funding won’t run out before I finish my degree,” said Cammy Lawson, a 22-year-old student in her first year in the child and youth care program at Vancouver Island University. “I’m relieved, and it gives me a sense of stability to know I have support during the summer months if I need it. I don’t have to panic about how to pay for my final years in the program.”

The AYA program complements the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, which government introduced in September 2017, giving young people who were in government care access to free tuition and mandatory fees at all 25 public post-secondary institutions. Budget 2018 included $2 million a year to support the tuition waiver program.

“We want youth in our care system to know we’ve got their back and that we believe in their potential,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Confirming the tuition waiver program is here to stay and providing increased supports for students while attending post-secondary education or training, will help more young people thrive, not just survive.”

Quick Facts:

  • Since it was introduced in 2008, 2,880 young adults have benefited from AYA (as of Dec. 31, 2017).
  • In fall 2017, 229 former youth in care benefited from the provincial tuition waiver program compared to 189 youth in 2016-17. Since September 2017, 20% more students in public post-secondary institutions are benefiting from the tuition waiver program in the first term, compared to all of last year.
  • The Ministry of Children and Family Development has provided $250,000 per year in funding since fiscal year 2014-15, for the Learning Fund for Young Adults (LFYA), an education fund for former youth in care. The Laptops for Learning program is a partnership between the ministry, IBM Canada and the Ministry of Citizens’ Services to provide free laptop computers to eligible young adults from government care currently receiving funding under the AYA program and attending a post-secondary institution.
  • The ministry has provided $616,000 over four years in one-time-only funding to support the YWCA’s Strive program, a program that helps youth leaving care hone life and employment skills.
  • In March 2017, ICBC announced funding for a $50,000 bursary to provide driver training for youth in and from care.
  • The ministry is committed to exploring further enhancements to the AYA program, including supports to address barriers and increase uptake.

Learn More:

AYA Program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=26F90C367E4846D491225B38B79F7930

Tuition Waiver Program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=E0D1E7CACCA1408EAB8251766AF187FD