MEGA-NEWS: Pilot program strives to help youth aging out of foster care


Photo courtesy Province of British Columbia.

 Youth aging out of foster care will soon be receiving a hand up from the province. 

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The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and the YWCA Metro Vancouver have launched a new pilot program called Strive, aimed at instilling important life skills in at-risk youth.

The ministry will be providing $250,000 in funding for 18 months to put 48 to 60 youth, ages 17-24, through 12 weeks of YWCA courses and mentorship. To put those numbers in perspective, over 700 youth are expected to age out of care this year alone. 

Starting February 24, 10 unemployed youth, currently not in school, will spend four weeks at the YWCA’s Career Zone Youth Centre taking part in workshops and activities aimed at improving financial literacy and employability and plotting life goals for education, housing and work.

The final eight weeks will be focused on achieving those goals with the help of mentors and YWCA staff, and could include anything from short-term internships and training to accessing legal support and counselling.

Students will also receive a stipend, and be eligible for government’s Youth Educational Assistance Fund, which provides $5,500 in annual bursaries for post-secondary education.

Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator for First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, says the program is a positive step towards helping some of the most at-risk youth in the province: “Overall I think it’s a good thing.”

She is pleased the YWCA is involved, too, adding she has a lot of respect for their programming. Her only critique is of the program’s 12-week length.

“Learning all you need to be independent or to deal with issues you’re dealing with, 12 weeks is not necessarily possible,” she says. 

“But they mentioned [in their announcement] that there is ongoing mentoring. If that’s the case, then that’s good.”

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