Written by Wendy, Foster Care Alum/Survivor, Never Too Late Team Member
It’s in times of crisis that I think most about my brothers and sisters in and aging out of foster care.
As someone who found a permanent family, during these (somewhat scary) times while measures are being taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19, I have someone to check in on me. How am I feeling? Do I have everything I need? Do I have lots of food?
During these times of crisis, it is always the most vulnerable of us that are impacted the most.
Walking through grocery stores and seeing empty shelves, I remember that it’s a privilege to be able to stock up. Youth aging out of care often must make the decision to survive early in life, entering low-income jobs to support themselves rather than having the opportunity to go to school and pursue gainful and meaningful employment. Living month to month means that there may not be enough money to buy extra food and supplies. It also means that when they go shopping now, their reliable, affordable options such as frozen goods or non-perishable food items have been cleaned out by those who can afford to buy extra.
Living in poverty also means relying on public transit or working in highly populated areas or service jobs with high exposure to other people which means they are more at risk of contracting COVID-19. The Tyee recently highlighted concerns and lack of support for youth living in group homes in BC. Similar concerns are being raised about shelters, where over 50% of homeless youth indicate they have had involvement with the child protection services.
With job security being threatened, young people from foster care likely have to worry about supporting themselves and paying their rent. When we do find a pathway to higher education, we may have to live on campus residences - which are closing to stop the spread of COVID-19. In these situations, there may not be a backup plan, a parent, mentor or guardian to stay with temporarily if housing is lost.
These are already things young people are worried about, the precautions being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 are just exacerbating the existing issues. Many of us have trauma histories, which means we struggle with mental health. The social isolation being created by these measures, the general fear of the situation will be more difficult for those struggling with mental health and who don’t have supports.
These are the time where we need someone the most. The times I am most grateful for my family, and the times that really remind me what Never Too Late is all about. How important the work that we do is.
Please consider meeting the urgent needs of youth from the foster care system and youth who do not have support people in their lives by donating $50 to the COVID Emergency Relief and Recovery Fund through StepStones for Youth.
This article was originally featured in the Never Too Late March 2020 newsletter.
SOME GOOD NEWS
The Ontario government has issued a moratorium on youth aging out of care during the pandemic. This means that...
- If you are currently in children’s aid society care, or in a customary care arrangement, and you are about to turn 18, you will continue to receive the same level of support you are receiving now throughout the outbreak.
- If you are currently receiving services through a voluntary youth services agreement, and you are about to turn 18, you will continue to receive the same level of support you are receiving now throughout the outbreak.
- If you are currently receiving support through the continued care and support for youth program, and you are about to turn 21, you will continue to receive the same level of support you are receiving now throughout the outbreak
You can read more about this moratorium on aptnnew.ca.