B.C. plans to waive education tuition for former youth in care – no matter their age – with a new round of supports from a provincial program.
Teens and adults who have been in government care are receiving further supports through the Strengthening Abilities and Journeys of Empowerment program, a program that was first announced in 2022 but officially named Tuesday (May 30).
The Children and Family Development Ministry announced the updated name as part of B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week 2023 at the Child and Youth Art Gallery Exhibit in Victoria. That exhibit, held at Victoria City Hall, showcases the “diverse artistic talents of children and youth in care.”
The ministry announced additional supports will be coming in 2023 and 2024.
Effective Aug. 1, all former youth in care – no matter their age – will be eligible to have post-secondary education tuition waived through the Provincial Tuition Waiver program. Then starting Sept. 1, a new grant will provide up to $3,500 annually to support tuition waiver recipients in covering additional expenses, such as textbooks and computers.
Other supports include: an unconditional monthly income supplement of up to $1,250 until age 20 to cover living expenses for all eligible young adults in care; the option to maintain the monthly income supplement if the young adult finishes high school, attends post-secondary, vocational training, life skills, mental health or rehabilitation programs; enhanced medical benefits that will provide access to counselling.
“The journey from youth to adulthood presents challenges for everyone, but it’s especially hard for young people who have had their connections with family undergo significant changes or disruptions,” said Mitzi Dean, Children and Family Development Minister.
”What happens as we transition from youth to adulthood shapes the rest of our lives, which is why we’re working hard to build a system of supports that gives young people who have experienced government care the help they need to thrive.”
The program first started last year.
In the 2022 budget, the province committed nearly $35 million to extend support for youth in care to age 27.