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Multi-million dollar investment to AYA program 'a step in the right direction': youth advocate

Last Updated Feb 26, 2018 at 7:40 am PDT

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – More help is coming to young adults who’ve spent time in government care. As of April 1st, the Agreements with Young Adults program will be expanded thanks to a $7.7-million investment from the provincial government.

The program aims to financially support them while they go back to school, or attend rehab, vocational, or approved life skills programs.

A child and youth rights advocate says the changes are a step in the right direction, but a few other things still need to happen.

One change is the increase of monthly supports by up to $250, something Adrienne Montani with First Call BC applauds.

However, she says things like affordability still pose a major challenge, especially when you live on just more than $1,200 dollars a month.

“Everybody, even middle class families, is struggling with the cost of living right now, unless they’re making a livable wage or more. So, for this particular population we really have to pay attention to making sure we embrace them as they make this transition into adulthood,” says Montani.

“Access to services so that then you can qualify for the support is a challenge for a lot of people.”

She says there’s also a lack in the number of certain programs.

“It’s hard to find housing and pay for food and transportation for that amount of money. That’s just given the cost, especially in the Lower Mainland.”

Expanded support will also add a year of eligibility under the AYA program to 27 years. The ministry says it is committed to exploring further enhancements to the AYA program, including supports to address barriers and increase uptake.

Montani says it’s important to invest in this population enough to ensure they succeed.

Since it was introduced in 2008, 2,880 young adults have benefited from AYA. Last fall alone, 229 former youth in care benefited from the provincial tuition waiver program, an increase from 189 youth the year before.

Since September, students in public post-secondary institutions benefiting from the tuition waiver program in the first term increased by 20 per cent over the year before, according to the province.