Did you know that youth in BC’s care system are considered adults on their 19th birthday? They are “aged out” of the system and no longer have access to most of the services available to them through the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).
Here’s a fact sheet on the situation for youth aging out of the care system: Surrey Youth Leaving Care Fact Sheet
The Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition, with financial support from the Vancouver Foundation, and guided by the VF’s Fostering Change initiative, have undertaken a project called Connecting Community to Surrey Youth Leaving Care. The project is engaging the community to do a radical rethinking of the ways in which youth are supported when they transition from the care of the MCFD, into adulthood.
Bringing our whole community along, including business, philanthropists, unions, etc. we are keenly interested in rethinking the way that we meet the needs of these young people, and helping them to be supported in achieving their aspirations.
Using a collective impact approach, we are:
Our first step was compiling existing research on the situation for Surrey youth aging out of the care system. We hired the McCreary Centre to do this work: Report on Surrey Youth Leaving Care Apr 8 16
All phases of the project are engaging youth in/from care – “not about them without them”.
The first workshop was held on May 27th, with over 40 people attending from a broad range of the Surrey community including government, non-profit and philanthropists. Here is a report on the first workshop: In Pictures – Connecting Community Workshop 1
A second workshop was held in June 2016 and focused more on action planning, with everyone coming up with ideas that would create more opportunities for youth aging out of the care system.
Both workshops welcomed a great diversity of participants, from those working in business, non-profit and education to government and social services, and also featured a panel of “alumni” – young people who had successfully made the transition, describing the factors that had helped them to succeed.
The third part of the project was an art exhibit called The 19th Birthday Party, which displayed digital stories by youth aging out of care in October 2016. Installed in the atrium at the Surrey City Hall, the exhibit was a compelling representation of the challenges faced by youth aging out of the care system, with aims to increase public awareness of the situation for youth in and from care.