Part One: From care to where? Aging out of the foster system

Imagine telling your children on their 19th birthdays that they must leave the family home, will receive no more financial or emotional support, and are on their own to figure out how to make money or go to school.

That is the reality for 700 youths every year in B.C. — foster children raised by the Ministry for Children and Families who, on their 19th birthdays, lose all the supports on which they had come to rely.

For some youths that means being forced out of a foster home or group home, where a family or non-profit agency provided them with shelter, food, clothing and guidance.

For many, it means losing the $1,000 a month provided by the ministry to pay their own rent and support themselves. In both scenarios, the youths also abruptly lose contact with any government social workers or transition workers who give advice and free food vouchers and bus tickets until age 19.

Foster children are often among the most vulnerable kids in our society. They either have no parents or have been taken from their parents by the child welfare system or the courts. They have not been adopted, so are being raised by the state.

Advocates say the majority of kids in care are resilient and determined to survive on their own. But while some find varying degrees of success, others fall down.

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