Vancouver Foundation announces $700,000 in grants to help foster youth find solid footing as adults

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Some might say family is never more important than when helping young people find solid footing as adults. This Family Day, Vancouver Foundation is pleased to announce it has approved $700,000 in grants for 2014 for community partnerships that support youth during the challenging time transitioning from foster care to adulthood. 

In BC, youth in government care face abrupt cut-off from relationships and resources provided by their “public parent” at age 19. Lacking a supportive and stable family home, the outcomes for these youth are sobering. Approximately 40 per cent of the homeless population were in government care as children. Many youth transitioning out of foster care find it hard to complete high school and even harder yet to find a job and stable housing. 

“Our research tells us 70 per cent of all British Columbian’s don't think most 19-year-olds are ready to be on their own, and that family obligations don't stop at 19,” said Vancouver Foundation CEO Kevin McCort. “A clear majority understand youth need a wide range of emotional and material supports, and they provide them for their own children. Yet as citizens and ‘public parents’ we need to seek and demand similar treatment and support for youth in foster care.”

Aunt Leah’s Place, Abbotsford Community Services, Pacific Legal Education Association (PLEA), SOS Children’s Services and Lu’ma Native Housing Society are among those social service agencies to receive multi-year grants for their efforts to improve outcomes for youth aging out of foster care.

“I’m glad to see these projects supported, as they highlight the importance of connection,” said Amett Vanderwal, a member of Vancouver Foundation's Youth Advisory Circle. “Family day is a chance for me to spend time with the people that I care about and who care about me… the ones I’m connected to biologically and the family that I’ve created. These projects offer an opportunity for youth to connect with family, in their communities.”

"Ensuring young people transitioning from care have access to safe, affordable housing is vital, alongside relationships with adults who offer mentorship, cultural knowledge and connections to community," said Ken Clement, President, Lu’ma Native Housing Society. 

“We all have a deep need for connection and belonging. For some people, the search for that sense of family connection is long and painful - but no less deserved,” added Simone Maassen, Manager of Youth Services at Abbotsford Community Services. “Youth in care lose the majority of positive adult connections when they become adults. This funding allows us to help them build a network of positive adults in their lives past 19.”

Vancouver Foundation, along with BC’s Representative for Children and Youth, Coast Capital Savings and numerous agencies and service providers have been seeking solutions to address the issues faced by foster youth as they leave government care, including innovative new programs, housing projects and changes in policy to ease this transition. Recent announcements by Vancouver Island University and the University of British Columbia’s offer to waive tuition for eligible foster youth, and the Ministry of Children and Family Development/YWCA employment and training pilot programs offer signs of hope and progress.

“We look forward to finding additional ways for communities, government, and philanthropy to work together to breakdown the systemic barriers facing youth aging out of foster care, and ensure they are safely housed, supported and connected as young adults,” said McCort. “Today’s funding announcement is an invitation to celebrate the possibilities and potential for better supporting all youth in their pursuit of family and community connections.”

To learn more about the challenges facing youth in government care, read Fostering Change: Vancouver Foundation Transition Survey report. The report is available at: http://vancouverfoundation.ca/initiatives/youth-homelessness

About Vancouver Foundation
With almost 1,500 funds and assets totaling $814 million, Vancouver Foundation is Canada’s largest community foundation. In 2012, Vancouver Foundation and its donors made more than 4,000 grants, totaling approximately $46 million to registered charities across Canada. Since it was founded in 1943, Vancouver Foundation, in partnership with its donors, has distributed more than $917 million to thousands of community projects and programs. Grant recipients range from social services to medical research groups, to organizations devoted to arts and culture, the environment, education, children and families, disability supports for employment, youth issues and animal welfare.

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