A young man raised in foster care has graduated from Langleyâ€™s Trinity Western University, thanks to provincial funding.
Growing up, Thomas Murtland faced some of the challenges common to many children and youth in government care. Having spent time in two foster care settings and at several family placements, he lacked the home stability and steady financial support that would allow him an easy transition into post-secondary education.
Now, he is one of more than 1,200 young adults who have benefitted from the Ministry of Children and Family Developmentâ€™s Agreements with Young Adults (AYA), a $5-million program that supports young people aged 19-24 who are transitioning out of government care and into adulthood.
Through AYA, Thomas got the support he needed, including advice, guidance and funding for room and board to attend TWU.
â€œFinances are a concern for many students pursuing a university education, but students in government care are typically faced with even higher financial concerns,â€ said Murtland. â€œHowever, finances are not the only concern of students leaving care; there are also parts of the transition that the program can help cover that you may not think of â€“ like where to go for Christmas break.â€
He also received a separate tuition bursary through the Youth Education Assistance Fund (YEAF). After graduating earlier this year with a degree in general studies, he returned to Trinity Western, this time as an admissions counsellor who helps secondary school graduates navigate the sometimes confusing entrance into post-secondary education.
Thomas has since offered to work with the ministry to explore a formalized mentoring process that would allow those who have had success through the AYA program to share their knowledge and experience with others.
For most young people, the task of planning for their future is daunting enough; for children and youth who have been in government care, that challenge is often compounded by financial, health, family and other issues.
The AYA program provides financial assistance and support services to help young people finish secondary school, learn job and life skills, attend college or university, or complete a rehabilitative program.
Under the AYA program, social workers work with young people to develop a written plan that helps them address their needs and goals as they approach adulthood. Throughout the agreement, the social worker maintains close contact, provides advice and support, and helps youth make decisions that will enable them to achieve their full potential.
Interested youth can find out more and can apply to the program by contacting the social worker they had while they were in care/in a Youth Agreement, or by phoning their nearest Ministry of Children and Family Development office.
Since its creation in 2008, more than 1,200 young adults have benefited from the Agreements with Young Adults program. Approximately 8,200 children and youth are in government care in B.C.