Aging out of Foster Care
Preparing to leave foster care can be really exciting and difficult at the same time.
It can be a time of discovery as new doors to your future open up. However, moving out on your own and becoming an adult also means you will have to begin making more of your own decisions. If you ever find yourself in doubt, we are a phone call away.
Have a Question? Need some help? Contact a Local Office
Where Do I Start?
If you're not quite ready to pick up the phone, the information below should help to point you in the right direction.
Becoming an adult is a process. The goal of being a teen is to learn how to become less dependent on adults and to become more self sufficient. Learning often means trying out different things out and spreading your wings. Life experience is often the best teacher of all.
If you are in government care, you should discuss your future with your worker. Talk about things like:
- Furthering your education
- Improving or maintaining your health
- Financial independence
- Career goals
- Successful employment
- Gaining a better understanding of your culture
- Learning life-skills
- And anything else that you can think of that will help you live safely, happily and in good health
Those in a Youth Agreement will most likely be working on a Plan for Independence that will address most (if not all) of the above.
Not Sure Where to Start?
You have a lot of options for going back to school, so it can feel overwhelming to choose a school or program.
The Education Section on AgedOut.com has some great things think about when deciding what school or program might be the best fit for you.
Graduate High School
If it's your goal to graduate from high school, there are a few programs and options available:
- Adult Graduation Diploma Program
Adult learners (18 and older) can enroll in this program to take courses as credit towards their Adult Graduation Diploma. Courses can be taken at school district continuing education centres, or as part of the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program at a post-secondary institution.
- Take High School Courses
Taking high school courses can help with various educational paths, including working towards high school graduation, upgrading for work or preparing for entrance into a post-secondary program.
- Already Graduated? Looking to Learn More?
There are a number of high school courses available to adults who have already have graduated – and they're tuition-free.
- Still Have Questions?
Check out the Options for Finishing High School section on AgedOut.com.
The Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) Program
If you've been in foster care or had a Youth Agreement, you may qualify for the Agreements with Young Adults Program to help cover the cost of things like housing, child care, tuition and health care while you go back to school, or attend a rehabilitation or life program.
- Learn More About the AYA Program
- Still have Questions?
Check out the Beyond Bursaries section on AgedOut.com
Apply for a Student Loan
Most post-secondary programs and courses have tuition or fees associated with them. Additional education expenses can also include textbooks, stationery supplies, uniforms or specialized tools. You will need to plan and budget to afford these costs. StudentAid BC is able to help you navigate funding options and build a plan to finance your education.
- Unsure about the Student Loan process?
Check out the Apply for a Student Loan section on AgedOut.com
Youth Education Assistance Funding (YEAF)
This program provides grants of up to $5,500 per program year to former B.C. youth in care students between 19 and 24 years of age. Students may receive a maximum of four grants.
Managing Your Day-to-Day Health
There are a lot of choices that you can make to maintain or improve your physical and mental health. There are many programs and services provided in B.C. to help you stay healthy and make healthy choices.
Most of your health care is covered by the Medical Service Plan (MSP) for a monthly fee. There are also services that help you pay for MSP and prescriptions. If you have a Status Card, you can get additional health benefits for free.
- Get Covered for Health Care
An easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide on how to apply for MSP
- Find a Doctor
When you have your own doctor, you'll get more personalized health care and not have to share your medical issues over and over again.
- Find a Dentist
A dentist will check for gum disease, cavities, and other dental or mouth problems. It's best to go every six months for a check up and cleaning.
- Check Your Symptoms and/or Find a Health Clinic
You can connect with a public health professional any time of the day or night, every day of the year through HealthLink BC. Connect with them directly by calling 8-1-1.
- Learn To Make Healthy Choices
Making healthy choices may not always seem easy, but they have a big impact on the quality of your overall health as you age. Learn more about healthy habits at HealthyFamiliesBC
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Learn more about STIs, their symptoms, how to prevent them, and what to do if you think you might have something
- How to Handle Sexually Difficult Situations
You can experience sexually difficult situations whatever your gender or sexual orientation. If you know what your options are, you'll have the power to make good decisions and get the support you need.
- Birth Control Options
By learning more about birth control you can find out what will work best for you and your situation.
- Sexual Health Services
It's always a good idea to talk to someone you know and trust if you have questions about your sexual health. However, services are also available to help point you in the right direction.
- Mental Health Services
Mental health services provide support for people with mental health conditions and their families. If you have a mental health condition, you can get counselling, housing support and skills training through mental health services.
- Eating Disorders
A lot of people worry about their weight and have body-image issues. If thinking about food is taking over your life, you may have disordered eating or an eating disorder. Help is available.
You might be depressed if the way you think and feel has changed. There are things you can do on your own and different professionals you can talk to in order to get help.
Everyone feels anxious at times. If your anxiety is impacting your life and changing the way you think, feel and act, you may have anxiety disorder. Learn more about the signs to watch out for and how to get help.
- Cutting & Self-Harm
When someone hurts themselves to deal with painful and difficult feelings, it's called self-harm. Self-harming is an unhealthy coping method and requires immediate help! If you've recently hurt yourself, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest hospital.
There are many signs and symptoms of addiction, and there are options for getting help.
- Find a Counsellor
Seeing a counsellor means you can talk openly about what's bothering you in a confidential, caring and supportive environment. Counsellors can often help you see your problems in a new way.
There are a lot of different housing options in B.C. It's a good idea to spend some time thinking about what will work best for you. It comes down to finding a balance between what's ideal and what's available.
- Subsidized Housing
Subsidized housing means the government (or an organization) is helping to pay your rent. BC Housing and Co-Operative Housing Federation of BC are two main organizations to check out.
- Aboriginal Housing
This option might help if you self-identify as Aboriginal. This includes status and non-status First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.
- Worried About Homelessness?
Almost half of former youth in care have experienced homelessness. This includes couch-surfing, staying in shelters, or living on the streets. If you're worried about homelessness, there are places you can turn to find short and long-term solutions. If you need somewhere to stay options are available.
- In a Crisis?
Contact the Crisis Centre. They're available anytime day or night. Call 1-800-784-2433 or Chat Online.
Know Your Rights as a Tenant
You have rights as a tenant. If you understand your rights, you'll probably feel more prepared to handle conflicts with your landlord. Below are tools and resources to help you learn more about your rights as a tenant.
Proving your identity is required for many day-to-day activities like completing an application, cashing a cheque or renting an apartment. All B.C. residents should have government-issued ID and know how to keep their personal identification safe. Both provincial and federal governments provide citizens with ID.
- Social Insurance Number
A social insurance number (SIN) is really useful. You need your SIN to get a job, tax refunds, and student loans.
- BC Services Card (CareCard)
Your BC Services Card (or CareCard) lets you access the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) for any medical service in B.C.
- Driver's Licence
Having a driver's licence can give you independence and open you up for job opportunities.
- Status Card
A Secure Certificate of Indian Status (Status Card) verifies your First Nations or Inuit heritage. You can get benefits and resources specifically for First Nations or Inuit people once you've got a Status Card.
- Birth Certificate
A birth certificate is one of the main pieces of ID used to identify you and show your Canadian citizenship.
A passport is needed for most travel outside of Canada. Find out how to apply for your Canadian passport and what to do if your passport is lost, stolen or damaged.
- Get Citizenship
Getting your Canadian citizenship means you can vote, hold any job, have an easier time travelling outside Canada, and can get a job in government.
- Vote in a Federal Election
Any Canadian citizen who is 18 years old at the time of the election can vote in that election. If you want to vote, make sure you're registered.
- How to Change Your Name
People change their names for a variety of reasons. Follow these easy steps to make the change.
Need to Replace Any of Your ID?
If you've lost your wallet or ID, make sure you cancel and replace all of your important cards. Here’s a list to help you through this process so that you replace your cards and identification in the right order.
Finding a Job
If you're looking for a job, check out the WorkBC Job Board. Land a job using WorkBC's tips and tricks for creating a great resume, preparing for interviews, developing your networking skills and using social media.
- In-Person Employment Services
There are WorkBC Employment Service Centres around the province. Search for the one nearest you at any time.
- Still Have Questions?
Check out the Money & Income section on AgedOut.com
Out of Work or In Need?
- Transitions Kit Bursary
The Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks has a province-wide bursary that provides youth in/from care (aged 14-24) with a $150 transition kit containing items that will help young people transition to independence.
This bursary does not replace the transition money given to some young people in care; it is meant to supplement it. Transition money varies for many reasons, including care status and level of need. This bursary is a competitive process and only 2-3 applicants per region will be selected to receive it.
- Income Assistance
If you are in need and have no other resources, you may be eligible for income assistance. This can help support your transition to employment.
- Disability Assistance
Disability assistance can help you if you need financial or health support. You must be designated as a Person with Disabilities (PWD) to receive this type of assistance.
- Food Banks
A food bank can provide you with food when you can't afford groceries. Each month, close to 850,000 Canadians get help from food banks. Sometime people just use it once or twice, while others use it frequently.
- Open A Bank Account
Opening a bank account is easy. Anyone can do it and, once you've got one, you'll have a safe place to keep your money!
- Filing Taxes
If you earned income in B.C. last year you need to file an income tax return. Find out when you need to file your income tax return, and if any tax credits or rebates apply to you.
Growing Your Independence
- What are Life Skills?
Life skills are everyday skills that all young adults, not just those from government care, need to know as they become more independent.
- Life Skills Programs - New!
By the end 2016, youth will have access to a new series of Life Skills Programs. These program are intended to provide guidance and provide hands-on skill development, such as:
- Financial literacy
- Time management
- Decision-making &problem solving
Building a Personal Network
- Finding Community Groups & Drop-Ins
Connecting with your community is a great way to meet new people and get support. There are groups and drop-in centres all around the province
- Cultural Groups
Aboriginal Friendship Centres offer many programs for youth and young adults to help you connect and build strong ties to your communities.
People can be in abusive relationships with a family member or dating partner.
If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety call 9-1-1.
- Learn more about abusive relationships and the warning signs
- What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is not just about physical abuse. It includes any form of violence within a relationship (marriage, common law or dating), including - sexual, emotional, financial and psychological, including threats.
Domestic violence is an issue that affects everyone, yet talking about it is tough. #SaySomething - aims to end the silence by encouraging all British Columbians to speak up and learn how they can safely help.