By: Kate Lambert
“It was a rare privilege to spend a day listening to and learning from youth who have experienced the care system. At the Rally For Change last week, youth who have ‘aged out’ of care had the chance to speak to each other, to their allies and supporters, and to law-makers in whose hands their fate lies. There were tears, laughter, poetry and songs. More than once, youth pointed out that in their case, the government is their parent. And like a parent, the government needs to protect, understand, be patient with and fund these wonderful young people. Not until 19 or until they aren’t in government care any more but for the whole of their lives. Youth who have aged out don’t have the Bank of Mum and Dad or a couch to spend the night on, or just someone to call when they are sad, lonely and need a hand.
We forget sometimes that the government represents us. Are we parents that ask our kids to leave home at 19 and never come back? Do we expect perfection from them? Do we abandon them when they are ill, addicted or lonely. Or do we celebrate them — their successes, momentous occasions and joys? And try to ease their pain when we can?
I hope my daughter can call me if she has an problem when she’s older. I hope if she is leaving a bad relationship, she knows she can come home. If she’s struggling with rent or bills, I hope she can turn to me. I want the same for the youth who aren’t my daughter.
What do these incredible young people want?
- Support that means something and meets them where they are
- Financial support to stop the epidemic of homelessness that plagues care leavers
- Education they can access when they are ready
- Cultural support and competency from support workers
- Consistency and compassion from the people who work with them
- Stable housing to support transition
At Ready to Rent BC, we also hope that they have the chance to learn the tenancy skills to find and keep rental accommodation and be the excellent tenants we know they can be. Thank you to all the youth that stood up and shared their stories.”