(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

Crews respond to house fire in Langford Monday night

Fire near Glen Lake Road and Haslam Avenue

Battling bullying covers a lot of ground, says Safe Schools manager for Sooke School District

Jamie Adair’s background is tailor-made for the work he does with the… Continue reading

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

UPDATED: Indigenous youth occupy B.C. Legislature steps amidst court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Upgrades for Colwood’s Brook Creek Dam pouring in

Improvements to mitigate risks for residents

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Most Read