Young people transitioning out of government care can get more money for housing, health care, transportation and other living expenses as changes to the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program take effect April 1, 2018.
The AYA program helps eligible former youth in care who attend approved educational, vocational, life skills or rehabilitation programs.
Improved AYA supports, as of April 1
The following changes to the AYA program are effective April 1, 2018:
- The age limit for eligibility has increased by one year, to include youth, aged 19-26 years, inclusive (up to the day of their 27th birthday) and to align with the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program.
- The funding is available for the full calendar year, including during program breaks, to a maximum of 48 months, for youth enrolled in a multi-year educational or vocational program. Previously, funding was only provided to youth while school was in session.
- Youth can now get up to $1,250 per month, based on individual need. This is an increase of up to $250 over the previous monthly maximum of $1,000.
The cost of living in B.C. has risen 13% since 2009. Added funding and improvements to the AYA program are intended to lessen the burden on young people in care as they transition to independence.
The ministry is working on the next phase of expansions to further improve supports for youth transitioning out of care.
Budget 2018 provided $30 million to the program over three years, beginning 2018-19.
An AYA is available to youth between their 19th and 27th birthdays. In order to qualify for AYA funding, youth must have been in one of the following care arrangements on their 19th birthday:
- On a youth agreement.
- Under a continuing custody order.
- In the guardianship of the director of adoption.
Existing AYA contracts may also be modified to reflect the improvements.
Youth who believe they may be eligible for the program can contact a Ministry of Children and Family Development social worker, or visit AgedOut.com for more information.
- Roughly 900 young people age out of government care every year.
- As of January 2018, more than 2,880 young adults have benefited from AYA since the program was established in 2008.
- Budget 2018 announced an investment of $30 million over three years to enhance and expand the AYA program. The breakdown of the investment is as follows:
- $7.7 million in 2018-19;
- $10 million in 2019-20; and
- $12 million in 2020-21
- The minister’s mandate letter identified increasing funding for the AYA program as a priority to support all eligible youth aging out of care.
- Between September 2017, when the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program was announced, and January 2018, 229 former youth in government care attending B.C. colleges and universities received tuition waivers, compared to 189 in the entire previous school year.
- A Youth Education Assistance Fund provides up to $5,500 in funding for education-related expenses to eligible youth who have been in care.