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Problem Discussion

Why do Foster Kids Struggle? What Needs to Change? What Can We Do?

In BC, there are approximately 1100 youth who will ‘age out’ of care at age 19 every year.

Of these 1100 individuals, more than 700 of these youth are permanent wards of the court; the Province is their last legal guardian before leaving care and becoming an adult. The remaining 400 young people are either on voluntary or temporary agreements, where the parent/guardian has not lost permanent legal guardianship.  In BC, 43% of foster children reside in Metro Vancouver – in absolute numbers 700 individuals .

These young people leave government care with nothing and often completely alone. Most are healing from neglect, abuse and trauma of some kind. Their circumstances are dismal – only  32% graduate, half live on income assistance within 6 months of leaving care, 85% are unemployed and [1], half experience homelessness with three years of leaving care[2]).

What Needs to Change?

These young people need the supports that most parented youth receive: safe, secure housing, assistance with education, employment and care for their individual needs.

Adequate investment in their support is needed.

What Can We Do?

  1. We know who needs extra preventative supports and how to reach them. Who to help is not a mystery – we can place scarce resources toward those most in need. We have official governmental and institutional contact with young people before they ‘age out’ of care; both the school and child welfare systems provide this conduit for identification and connections to additional resources.
  1. This is a relatively small group of individuals; therefore the goal of delivering these extra preventative supports is within reach. Aunt Leah’s provides these supports as our resources allow.

  1. Early intervention creates brighter futures for foster youth. We have the opportunity and indeed the moral and ethical obligation for early intervention to prevent homelessness, crime, unemployment and unplanned pregnancies.

Aunt Leah’s Makes a Difference

For over 30 years, Aunt Leah’s Place has been helping kids in foster care and young mothers achieve a better future by providing guidance, supported housing, job training and coaching on essential life skills. We believe every individual deserves to feel safe, cared for, and have a sense of belonging.

Aunt Leah’s Place often provides the only thread of care and continuity for youth whose lives are marked by abuse, neglect, abandonment and multiple foster home placements. Over the years, we have seen how support at this critical time can help these young people realize their potential while becoming resilient, independent adults.

To learn more about the social and economic public policy context for foster youth: