The news that the Ministry of Children and Family Development will be extending supports to former youth in care from the current two years to four years and from the current age range 19-24 to the new 19-26 is most welcome. Actually, it is only mildly encouraging… and painfully overdue.
I have to assume that the recent report by the Vancouver Foundation that clearly showed the economic value of supporting youth had some impact on the Christie Clark government and their sluggish response to positively changing and improving the lives of the children in their care.
On a slightly different point, and although I agree with the Children’s Representative who has argued for the extension of the time youth can stay in care beyond the age of nineteen, I’ve never believed that that concept had any appeal to the Liberals. So this initiative has to be seen as a compromise.
In my day, the program of support beyond the age of nineteen was called Post-Majority Services. The name of the program recognized that the state was providing some semblance of support to youth for whom we had been responsible.
Somewhere along the way, as program names do, it was changed. It is now called Agreements with Young Adults.
I suppose the name doesn’t really matter and Post-Majority Services did have an unfortunate acronym.
If I have a question for MCFD and Minister Stephanie Cadieux at all it is, why did it take so long? It is certainly a question the Children’s Representative, about to take her leave after an amazing run, has asked. And what is often required, and rarely provided, to assist former youth in care to succeed in a program the likes of Agreements with Young Adults, is a battery of mentors, supporters, social workers, outreach workers, all of the human resource ingredients that youth still in care require if they are going to stand a chance of succeeding.
Hopefully those supports will be there for the Young Adults who sign agreements with MCFD.
Although money is useful, youth, indeed all of us, need to nurtured along the way.