This is an unprecedented opportunity for you to help directly augment the incomes of BC's poorest and most marginalized youth, while simultaneously supporting their journey to further their education or career, rehabilitate themselves, or learn new life skills.
AYA provides financial assistance directly to young adults, from age 19 up to their 27th birthday, who were previously in foster care. Recent changes within the AYA system have broadened age eligibility, increased funding per participant, and expanded the program to include life skills training.
Despite these changes, only 13% of eligible post-19 youth from government care are accessing AYA.
In its current state, AYA helps the former youth in care who are already doing well, but doesn't support those who are struggling. Creation of a new AYA Life Skills Program at Aunt Leah's Place in New Westminster represents a new and attainable AYA entry point, greatly increasing AYA's effectiveness in supporting the unserved 87%.
Your support removes the following barriers to AYA at Aunt Leah's Place:
1. Currently, AYA-accredited Life Skills Programs only exist in Vancouver and Surrey. Your support creates a new program in the geographic centre of Greater Vancouver at Aunt Leah's Youth Resource Hub in New Westminster. Your support removes this proximity barrier to AYA entry to +300 youth from care and their dependents who receive services through Aunt Leah's Link program each year.
2. Your support creates a 'continuous/rolling intake' system to an AYA Life Skills Program, thus creating immediate and responsive entry to AYA, plus allowing AYA to act as a timely poverty response mechanism, leading young people immediately out of homelessness and poverty and -in the long term - toward education, employment and rehabilitation.
3. Your support helps remove barriers to the 87% of eligible youth from care who don't currently receive AYA. Recent changes have increased funding for AYA by $250, up to a maximum of $1,250 per month. In many cases, this represents a 50% increase in monthly income per participant, compared to what they might otherwise receive on Income Assistance.
4. Life Skills Programs, in and of themselves, can't make systemic change in young people's lives. You support also creates planning and care beyond exit from the Life Skills Program, integrating participants into Aunt Leah's programs that support employment, education, housing, parenting and mental health & addictions.
We hope you can join us in creating new opportunities for BCs youth from care to pursue education, employment and rehabilitation. The Link Program is fundraising to make up a projected deficit of $197,887.37 this year, plus implement this new program.