Vulnerable youth get extra support for post-secondary studies

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Youth who have aged out of government care and are ready to pursue post-secondary education this fall will have an additional $250,000 from the Youth Futures Education Fund (YFEF) to help them with expenses beyond tuition, such as rent, utilities and groceries.

“Students often turn to their parents for support with living expenses while they pursue their post-secondary education dreams. Former youth in care rarely have that option,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.  “The Youth Futures Education Fund is about providing extra support to ensure former youth in care can focus on their studies to achieve their career ambitions. The fund shines a light on our government and private efforts working in partnership to empower former youth in care to cross the finish line and build a brighter future for themselves.”

The fund is used for wraparound financial supports that could also include text books or emergency situations. The funding complements the Provincial Tuition Waiver program, which ensures youth who have aged out of care can attend a post-secondary institution tuition-free. The average amount students receive from YFEF is approximately $1,300.

Students who meet eligibility requirements for the YFEF funding must be using the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program while studying at one of the 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C. or at the Native Education College.

Eligible students, up to their 27th birthday, can also tap into the Agreements with Young Adults program as one more support to help with housing, child care, tuition and health care, while they return to school or attend rehabilitation, vocational or an approved life-skills program.

“By working together across ministries, we can increase the level of support available to youth in care and help them pursue post-secondary education by reducing the barriers that many face,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “As BC Child and Youth in Care Week comes to a close, this investment is particularly timely, giving even more youth the opportunity to succeed now and into the future.”

YFEF is an application-based program funded in part by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, as well as organizational and private donations. The program is administered by the Vancouver Foundation.

Since 2015, almost $2 million has been raised for the fund, with $1 million coming directly from government. Nearly $1.4 million has been distributed to more than 600 students attending college or university on a provincial tuition waiver.

“At this unique time in history, the government’s $250,000 contribution has never been more necessary or more appreciated,” said Maureen Young, director of community leadership, Coast Capital, who serves as the interim chair of the Youth Futures Education Fund. “Youth Futures funding is vital to so many former youth from care studying across our province and with the challenges presented by COVID-19, this funding is needed more than ever. We are so grateful to the Province of B.C. for its ongoing commitment to youth from care and for its continued commitment to the Youth Futures Education Fund.”

As of February 2020, 1,272 former youth in care have benefited from government breaking down barriers to post-secondary education as a result of implementing the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program.