B.C. will extend its interim pandemic supports through the summer months, including a new round of funding and support for children with special needs and youth ageing out of care.

“COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, and we need to do all we can to support young people and families who are still struggling,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “As a Province, we’re moving ahead with a restart plan focused on restoring services that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. In the meantime, vulnerable youth and families can continue to rely on interim supports to help them through this time of transition.”

The Province said that a final round of applications will be taken for its short-term Emergency Relief Support, which will give families with youth and children with special needs $225 a month for up to three months. It added that the new round of funding will reach twice as many families, and will be open from July 1st to September 30th.

Families that are accessing supports for children and youth with special needs (CYSN) are asked to contact their local ministry office or speak with their CYSN worker to see how they can benefit.

As well, youth and young adults will continue to receive the same level of supports, even if they were set to age out of the foster system, until at least September 30th. Youth living in foster care, contracted residential agencies or with relatives will be able to stay where they are for the time being.

“Independent living and youth agreements will be extended, and participants in the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program can continue to receive funding. Any “paused” AYA time during the pandemic, or the inability for a youth to find employment because of COVID-19 during a natural program break, will not count toward the maximum 48-month program duration or age limit of 27. A new temporary life-skills option has been developed for AYA, with expanded program access, including cultural programs, and fewer required hours of participation per week,” said the B.C. Government.

Social workers have been in touch with youth and young adults to support them and modify agreements when extensions are needed.