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Indigenous Child and Family Service agencies applaud decision to extend services for youth in care up to 27 years of age

Statement from Mary Teegee, Chairperson

Today Indigenous Child and Family Service agencies recognize and applaud the Province of B.C.’s leadership as the first in Canada to extend services and supports for youth in care up to the age of 27.

Indigenous children and youth are over-represented in government or alternate care arrangements. The child welfare to homelessness pipeline for Indigenous youth is a well-documented ongoing human rights tragedy. Our children and youth in care have not been afforded the same opportunities to learn, grow, make mistakes, and receive ongoing un-conditional love. This put them in vulnerable situations that are not of their making.

When the system intervenes in a child’s life, it assumes deep responsibility. Today’s announcement of new wrap around supports and future policy change goes a long way to making it right for Indigenous young adults.

It is essential that new policy is need-based, grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and is in alignment with the principles of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal related to the funding of First Nation child and family services.

As the details of today’s announcement become clear, Indigenous Child and Family service directors look forward to playing our part in shaping new policy and providing direct and vital needs based cultural and social support to enable young Indigenous adults to thrive.

At this morning’s announcement, former youth in care Susan Russell summed it up best when they said what we need is a “needs-based, not aged-based approach.”