VICTORIA, B.C. – The Ministry of Children and Family Development has announced they’re extending interim measures, including a new round of funding and supports for children in the province with special needs and youth aging out of care. This will help children, youth, and families through the ongoing pandemic.

“COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, and we need to do all we can to support young people and families who are still struggling,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “As a Province, we’re moving ahead with a restart plan focused on restoring services that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. In the meantime, vulnerable youth and families can continue to rely on interim supports to help them through this time of transition.”

The final round of the short-term Emergency Relief Support fund will provide a direct payment of $225 per month for up to three months to help eligible families. This fund will be available from July 1 until September 30, 2020. This option should help families have access to critical supports.

Flexible guidelines in regards to the autism funding and the temporary suspension on maintenance payments for children on special needs arrangements will continue through to August 31, 2020. The use of respite funding will continue until March 31, 2021.

There are also measures in place to ensure youth and young adults, who have been set to age out, continue to receive the same level of service until September 30, 2020. Youth who have been living in foster care, contracted residential agencies, or with relatives through the extended family program are now able to stay where they are.

Independent living and youth agreements will be extended, and participants in the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program are also able to continue to receive funding. Any “paused” AYA time that took place during the pandemic, or troubles a youth faced to find employment because of the pandemic, is not going to count towards the 48-month maximum program duration or the age limit of 27. A new temporary life-skills option has also been developed for AYA, with expanded program access, which includes cultural programs, and fewer required hours of participation per week.

Social workers are currently reaching out to youth and young adults to help support them and modify agreements where extensions are needed during this time frame. Families accessing Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) supports are encouraged to get in contact with their local ministry office or to speak with their CYSN worker to see if they can benefit from this emergency help.

These measures are part of the Government’s COVID-19 Action Plan to help provide relief for income supports, tax relief, and direct funding for people, businesses, and services.