Supporting and protecting children between the birth and adolescence years is critical to their immediate and long-term health and well-being. Early intervention often leads to better health at a time when children are actively growing. It improves poor school performance and keeps children on a path to academic success and meaningful, independent lives.
Children in care are particularly vulnerable compared to children in the general population. More than half of all children in care are not school-ready according to the Early Development Indicator, which is more than twice the rate for the general population. As these children grow older, they continue to score 30 or more percentage points below the general population in assessments of their reading, writing and number skills.
All youth experience a range of challenges as they transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, but youth in care face a unique set of circumstances. They haven’t had the same opportunities, experiences and role models as youth in the general population. Youth in care have poorer health, especially mental health, and have limited education and employment options as they grow older.
Only one in five youth in care graduates from high school, compared to three out of four youth in the general population.
The Representative strives to ensure services for youth in care leading up to and beyond the age of 19 to support a steady transition to independence.
Young Adults (between their 19th and 27th birthdays)
Transitioning to adulthood can be particularly challenging for our province’s most vulnerable young people. As of February 2022, the Representative’s advocacy services are available to British Columbians up to their 27th birthdays who are eligible to receive services from Community Living BC and who have also received a reviewable service within 15 months before their 19th birthday.
As of July 3, 2019, the Representative can advocate for young adults between their 19th and 27th birthdays who have aged out of care and who are on or eligible for an Agreement with Young Adults (AYA), or who are on or eligible for a provincial post-secondary tuition waiver.
Young adults are presumed to be capable of making decisions regarding their lives. Self-advocacy can be an important aspect of a young adult’s dignity and self-determination.
Where direct advocacy is required, advocates will help to ensure the young adult’s voice is heard, their rights are upheld and any preferences, wishes or desires are considered in the decision making process.
The Rep also recognizes that for some young adults, decisions may be made interdependently with family, friends and trusted others chosen by the individual.