More than $2 million to keep young adults from care connected
Apr 2, 2017
VANCOUVER – Making sure young adults leaving government care have the tools to be successful is the focus of a series of innovative provincial partnerships with TELUS, IBM, the Adoptive Families Association of BC and the Public Guardian and Trustee.
Starting as a pilot this spring, smart phones will be made available to up to 1,000 current and former youth in care thanks to a $2-million fund jointly administered by the Province and TELUS. First priority will go to young people who are enrolled in school or training through the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program.
The Moto G smart phones will include monthly phone and data plan credits for up to two years. TELUS is providing the phones, which will have unlimited nationwide talk and text, and up to 3GB of monthly data usage. TELUS will also develop a cell phone app to advise youth about Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and government programs and relevant information. TELUS has heavily subsidized the monthly phone package with government covering the remaining costs. The phone package will be registered in the youth’s name to help them develop a positive credit rating and encourage responsible cell phone use.
Youth leaving care who are attending post-secondary training will also be eligible to receive a new lenovo laptop computer thanks to a partnership between IBM, MCFD and the Ministry of Technology, Inovation and Citizens’ Services. Under the $150,000 provincial funding agreement, 369 young adults will receive a laptop this spring, including 19 and 20-year-olds with an AYA agreement who are pursuing post-secondary studies. IBM will provide laptop support services.
To ensure youth receiving laptops are able to take advantage of home Internet service, TELUS has extended them its Internet for Good program, offering high-speed Internet for $9.95 per month.
As a further step to keep young adults from care informed and connected, AgedOut.com features two new e-learning modules — ‘Money Sense’ and ‘Healthy Eating on a Budget’— to promote nutrition and financial management. The new modules were developed in partnership with the Adoptive Families Association of BC (AFABC) and the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) with input from former youth in care.
Government’s goal is to ensure that young people leaving care have the appropriate supports in place as they move into adulthood. There is a cross government and corporate effort to create new programs and improve existing ones for this unique and vulnerable group who often lack traditional family support. With these new investments B.C. further solidifies its leadership position among the provinces in the types of programs and services offered to young people leaving care.
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister for Children and Family Development –
“Just like any parent, MCFD hopes youth leaving care will go on to post-secondary education or jobs training. To support that goal in this technology-based era, our young people need the right tools to help them stay informed and connected. Kids in our care often lack traditional family support, so making cell phones and laptops available to them free of charge and tailoring online resources specifically to their needs is one step we’re taking with community partners to help bridge that gap and give them the best chance of success as they move into adulthood.”
Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services –
“Providing these young people with the technology and resources to stay connected is important, especially at this transitional age. This program will open up opportunities for accessing job information, post-secondary educational opportunities and training and to help maintain important connections with friends and family.”
Darren Entwistle, TELUS President and CEO –
“At TELUS, we embrace our passionate social purpose to give where we live by empowering youth to help them reach their full potential. The TELUS Mobility for Good programme is one way we can help. By offering vulnerable young people a reliable way to connect with social workers, prospective employers and medical professionals, as well as access to innovative educational mobile apps and websites, TELUS Mobility for Good will help youth gain their independence while staying connected to the people, information and opportunities that matter most in our increasingly digital society.”
John Longbottom, IBM Canada’s Executive for the public sector in British Columbia –
“IBM is proud of its longstanding partnership with the B.C. government which enables us to participate in critical programs like the one we are supporting today. IBM is committed to investing in technology and education in many ways including helping today’s youth prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. We recognize that for those leaving care it can be a very stressful time. By equipping these young adults with tools to support their future success, we hope to help ease the transition to post-secondary education.“
• MCFD has invested $700,000 to support AgedOut.com, an online resource that offers support to youth in care with their transition to adulthood. • Under the Agreements with Young Adult program (AYA), youth who leave government care at 19 are eligible for supports to cover living expenses while they finish high school, attend post-secondary training or complete a rehabilitation program. AYA was recently expanded from two to four years and to include life skills training and cover youth up to the age of 26. More than 2,500 young adults have benefited from AYA since the program was established in 2008. • TELUS Internet for Good is a pilot program that launched in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation last October. The program offers high-speed Internet for $9.95 per month to single-parent families receiving income or disability assistance from the province. Now, youth participating in the AYA program also will have access to the subsidized Internet service. • ICBC recently announced $50,000 in funding to the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks for bursaries to support driver training for young people in and from government care. • MCFD is providing another $250,000 in annual funding for the Learning Fund for Young Adults (LFYA), an education fund for former children and youth in care. • MCFD is giving a further $61,000 to support the YWCA’s Strive program, a program that helps youth leaving care hone life skills. • MCFD also supports the Youth Educational Assistance Fund (YEAF) , which provides post-secondary education and training bursaries of up to $5,500 per education year to help former youth in care with tuition, books and fees. • Eleven B.C. post-secondary institutions now also offer tuition waivers or bursaries to former youth in care.
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