Kids in care go from foster homes to welfare rolls

Over half of British Columbia's children in care applied for income assistance within six months of turning 19 and aging out of the government's protection - something the opposition's children and family development critic describes as a "failure" on the part of the province. That revelation was included a batch of statistics that were quietly posted on the ministry of children and family development's Website late last month.

According to those statistics, that application rate has mostly increased over the past few years - from 36.9 percent in fiscal 2005/06 to 42.0 percent in 2008/09. But it shot up 11.5 percentage points to 53.5 percent in 2009/10.

In response, the critic - New Democrat Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis - said that jump "points to a failure on the part of government to care for the long-term future of foster children."

"There should be very specific efforts made to ensure they are getting the adequate education that they need and that they're getting some additional supports around life skills, work readiness and all that," she continued.

Adrienne Montani - the provincial coordinator for First Call, a coalition of groups concerned about children and youth issues - agreed, calling the increase "troubling."

Ms. Montani said the rise in the number of former foster children applying for income assistance could partially explained by the global economic downturn.

But she said the government should have made sure extra support was available for those children given British Columbia's tough economic times.

So what does the government have to say about all of that?

Well, in an email, a spokesperson for the ministry of children and family development stated, "The percentage of children who transition out of MCFD care and apply for income assistance is always a concern" - adding the 11.5 point increase represents an extra 89 children who went from the government's protection onto income assistance.

"However," the spokesperson continued, "the fact that almost half those youth are not moving onto IA is also a positive step, given the fact that many children and youth come into care because they have complex needs and that doesn't change simply because they turn 19 years old."

The spokesperson also stated the government has several services in place to assist children in care moving into adulthood.

8 Comments

Good work Sean. I wish a certain CC would let us post links on her Facebook page so we could raise the issue with the "Families First" free-market fellow :-).

This is just another example of BC Liberal ideology hard at work. The middle class is quickly vanishing under this regime and the poor are just getting poorer. A friend of mine commented the other day that the BC Liberals won't be happy until everyone but their Corporate welfare pals are living in tents in the Parks.

Richard, that is just baloney. Or hyperbole.

The BCLib ideology, something I've studied quite a bit, is to help you help yourself. It's not to "spread the wealth" or keep you down. Come on!

While deeply disturbing, this is not at all surprising.

Many kids in care have special needs, undiagnosed special needs or else they are what's termed "grey area" students in the public school system - kids with learning/ developmental challenges who don't fit formal categories like Autism or dyslexia.

These kids are disproportionately failing to complete high school and/or many are leaving school functionally illiterate.

Advocacy groups have been stressing for years that provincial underfunding (i.e. frozen budgets or budgets that have lagged rising education costs) has led to an alarming erosion of specialized services in K-12, especially special education staffing and programs that support these vulnerable students.

Kids who don't have very capable, involved parents to advocate for them in the school system or to buy private tutoring on the side are falling through cracks that have become great big gaping holes.

At my child's high school, every year the principal comes to the Parent Advisory Council with ever more desperate pleas for fundraising support to try to save critical programs that we know may be the last hope for keeping at-risk students on track. It's heart-breaking!

The Representative for Children & Youth warned in a major report several years back about the particular risks and concerns with kids in care, especially the many kids with special needs in care, for whom the challenges are compounded.

But instead of investing in additional supports, we've seen further erosion of support programs and core special education services, even as the number of students with special needs in the public system has increased.

My question is whether the Province has made any effort to improve supports to help these kids beef up their skills through post-secondary education. Provincial policies have promoted a dramatic rise in the costs of post-secondary education, so left on their own, these kids would have very little chance, even if they really want to do better.

There is no mystery whatsover around the reasons for these stats. Our Province has invested billions in other priorities while turning its back on our most vulnerable children. It's not just a cruel but a foolish disregard -- and one that we will all pay dearly for.

Josef....10 billion in tax shifts over the next 5 years...yup..I know who is helping themselves and their Corporate welfare pals.

I'll help myself by voting these bankrupt hotdog stand operators out of office.

The irony Dawn, is that some still think this is "baloney or hyperbole."

The idea is to tax business less because a) business creates jobs b) the BCNDP punitive taxation & labor laws put capital on strike in the 199os & c) business doesn't demand much in services versus people.

Not exactly the best answer, but I am sick n tired of the lack of balance down here. I mean, these guys can't explain why people vote BCLib... but slam 'em like a headshot is a-ok.

Business does not "create" jobs, no more than they "create" wealth. There are plenty of jobs around, but workers need to be paid for doing them, although many kind people are doing some of these jobs for free.

Look around, most of the good paying jobs have been shipped to offshore sweatshops, along with our raw resources (our commonwealth) and our oil to run the ships. How stupid is this?

Business "demands" much more in services than the average person. Gawd! They want tax cuts in corporate salares, corporate tax cuts AND THEN they want us taxpayers to give them grants and land everytime they want to drill an oil or gas well, or do any improvements to their businesses. They want their workers to slave for nothing, while they take billions and trillions of bucks. Businessmen are Freeloaders (the REALLY rich ones). Worse, the richer they get, the more they have this air of snotty entitlement. They demanded and got "Personhood" for their companies, and now the business investors demand want even more votes!

Profit does not come out of thin air. Somebody, something and the environment pays for that profit; and the wildlife pays by loss of habitat. Profit is merely a transfer of wealth from our commmonwealth, the environment, animals, the labour of others and from the wages of customers. (I haven't even mentioned the pollution and the costs of that!)

Yeah, the Business Class has become the Predator Class. Heartless, greedy, destructive and full of BS. Yet, some of them claim to be religious! Ha! Maybe to Satan...

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