(Pixabay photo)

B.C.’s tuition waiver program for former youth in care continues to grow

More than 1,100 former youth in government care are now using the program since it launched in 2017

The tuition waiver program in B.C. has reached one if its first major milestones, with more than 1,000 former youth in care using the funds to pursue post-secondary education.

Since the program was launched province-wide in 2017, 1,119 students have been approved to have their tuition waived across 25 public university, colleges and trades schools. Last year, the province increased the age cap from 25 to 27.

Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark celebrated the growing program with 30 youth in care and former foster kids during a Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks event in Mission Saturday.

She spoke of how youth who have aged out of care face greater challenges and more barriers after high school graduation than those who aren’t placed into the child welfare system.

“You could be number 1,120,” she said to the group. “You can be the first person in your family to go to university.”

Roughly 750 to 1,000 youth age out of care each year, according to B.C. government statistics. Roughly 55 per cent of youth who have been placed in government care graduate high school, compared to the roughly 84 per cent provincial average. An estimated 2,200 former youth in care under the age of 26 are attending post-secondary schooling.

Caitlyn Mainer, 20, is one of those two-thousand young people working to earn a bachelor’s degree, at Douglas College in the psychology program. In her third year, she told Black Press Media that she’s been accessing both the tuition waiver program and the Agreement with Young Adults program since graduating from an alternative school in Maple Ridge.

The AYA program provides eligible former youth in care with funding for monthly living expenses while they finish high school or attend post-secondary, vocational training, life skills or rehabilitation programs, up to their 27th birthday.

ALSO READ: B.C.-wide tuition waiver gives former foster kids a chance at post-secondary education

Mainer said wants to see more young people using the tuition waiver program, but in order to do that the program’s eligibility requirements need to be more inclusive and also offer added supports.

“I think when you look at the amount of people who are using AYA and the tuition waiver, it’s the most successful and the people who got the best grades – it’s not really diverse in who it can accept and it has really strict guidelines,”she said.

“I think another thing that would be beneficial is getting mental health support – at least at my school they don’t offer any counselling that isn’t academic, so it can be a struggle. There’s a lot of stress that is associated with school.

“It is a journey and it’s not the easiest and if we had someone advocating in our corner it would be beneficial.”

When asked what she would tell a youth in care looking to post-secondary school, Mainer said that she knows it can feel scary and that’s OK, just be patient.

ALSO READ: Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

“A lot of times when you spent your high school years dealing with a lot of trauma, education was not your top priority, so that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up or that you’re not as smart as everyone else in your class you’re just smart in different ways,” she said.

“If you’re going to school and you are trying you are putting an effort in that is absolutely amazing, you are beating the odds for youth in care.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Man sentenced for setting apartment barbecue on fire in Abbotsford

Michael Rodden climbed to second-storey balcony in March 2019

How do you hold a public hearing when public gatherings are banned?

City of Abbotsford discussing how to hold hearings with appropriate social distancing

Abbotsford golf courses remain open during COVID-19 pandemic

Ledgeview, Fraserglen and Valley Golf institute safety policies to fight coronavirus

120 more recreation staff laid off by City of Abbotsford

Job cuts from closure of public facilities, city will re-hire after health emergency passes

400 people assessed for COVID-19 at Abbotsford centre

Website and centre have been running for over a week

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

BC Hockey, Vancouver Canucks encourage stick tapping to honour frontline health care workers

Families are encouraged to video themselves tapping their sticks at 7 p.m. and post to social media

Most Read