The Manitoba government is extending its supports to all young adults who would be aging out of the child welfare system during the COVID-19 pandemic, the province announced Wednesday.
Youth in care who turn 18 between March 20 and Sept. 30 will continue to receive support from the province, including financial support if they choose to move out of foster care, and extensions to their foster care placements.
“Our government will ensure young people who would otherwise age out of [Child and Family Services] care have access to continued financial and other support when they turn 18, giving them a greater chance of independence and success beyond the COVID-19 pandemic,” Families Minister Heather Stefanson said in a media release.
“We will work with child welfare authorities and agencies to ensure funding and supports are in place to make this possible.”
People in care who turn 18, and up to the age of 21, can choose to transition to an agreement with a young adult, which provides continued care and maintenance funding to help them become independent. People who currently hold a voluntary agreement will also continue to receive assistance until Sept. 30.
The province believes this could benefit more than 280 youth in care, and more than 70 young adults with agreements.
Additionally, Manitoba Housing is making 10 units available for people aging out of care and “other youth in contact with the child welfare system.
The supports will go a long way in protecting youth in the CFS system, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said in a statement responding to the announcement.
More than half of homeless people in Winnipeg have been in CFS care at one point in their lives, and more than 62 per cent of that group experienced homelessness within one year of leaving care, according to the 2018 Winnipeg Street Census, a survey of the local homeless population.
Nearly two-thirds those surveyed were Indigenous people.
“When First Nations youth age out of care, many have nowhere to go,” AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said in the statement.
“Homeless people are at considerable risk for COVID-19. Considering that they have… no supports or services or housing when they age out of care is a very dangerous proposition.”
The AMC’s statement said it was “wary” of the province’s announcement and called on the government to “work with
First Nations so the provincial policies pre-COVID-19 remain in the past.”
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