To wrap-up Ready or Not: Aging out of Care for this year, we’ve summarizes the BC government’s support for the Eight Pillars of Equitable Support for Youth Aging out of Care with an old-fashioned report card.
Although significant changes have been made to support youth aging out of government care, there are still major gaps in funding and support to ensure positive long term outcomes. In reviewing recent updates to the recommendations from the BC Representative for Children and Youth, we can see where improvements have been made, and where there is still significant work to be done.
Financial supports for youth aging out of care are still contingent on specific requirements, and they fall short of meeting the financial pressures caused by increased housing and food costs. However, for those able to work, a full earning exemption allows for greater flexibility in financial security.
Education & Professional Development
Recent increases to educational funding, and a reduction in the restrictions for that funding, offer more flexibility for youth leaving care to expand their life skills. However, funding for program costs alone does not take into account the need for additional support while pursuing education & training.
While some work has been done on investigating and understanding youth housing needs, the majority of funding for housing creation is still inaccessible for organizations supporting youth.
The extension of voluntary residential care allows youth from care to maintain relationships with their support networks as they transition out of care. Youth transition workers are now able to work with youth aging out of care up to age 25, helping to maintain relationships as youth transition out of care.
Culture, Spirituality, and Wellbeing
Recommendation #6 from the BC Representative for Children and Youth outlines some of the progress that is being made in this area. However, this progress is slow and falls short of meeting the needs of youth transitioning out of care. Additional funding for extended medical and mental health supports has been mentioned by the government, but concrete details, including an implementation date, have not been announced.
Advocacy & Rights
The implementation of longitudinal data collection to monitor the effectiveness of programs has still not been done. Without the ability to see how programs are working, it is difficult – if not impossible – to get an accurate understanding of the needs of youth transitioning out of care.
Emerging Adult Development
Increases in the number of transition workers, and an extension on the continuity of service with those workers up to age 25, help youth to transition at a pace that they are comfortable with. Additional work to extend the age to 27 (as recommended by the BC Representative for Children and Youth) and increased long term follow up would enhance emerging adult development for youth.
We applaud the work done by the Ministry of Child and Family Development in increasing the funding and support offered to youth as they transition out of care. And, as long as there are still major gaps in the services youth need in order to achieve positive long term outcomes will continue to do our work to fill those gaps with programs that support recovery, housing stability, and life skills training in order to set youth up for long term success as they transition into adulthood.
Check this PDF document for links to all references used in this blog series.