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On Friday, B.C. premier, John Horgan, announced free tuition for youth leaving foster care.
According to the province, youth will have free tuition at all of the 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C.
“We want youth in our care system to know we are looking out for them and that we believe in their potential. That’s why we are expanding access to post-secondary education for youth aging out of care so they can thrive, not just survive,” said Horgan.
The waiving of tuition for youth leaving care was already available at 11 public post-secondary institutions and has now expanded.
“We’re in a position to make life better for young people who grew up without family stability,” said Horgan. “By bringing down barriers to opportunity, and making advanced education more accessible, we can clear the path to success for these young people.”
In order to be eligible for free tuition in B.C., the student must be from British Columbia, between 19 to 26 years of age and have been in care for a minimum of 24 months.
The expanded tuition waiver program is part of B.C.'s programs to improve support systems for young people out of foster care.
The waived tuition costs will come out of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training budget for the remainder of fiscal 2017-2018.
Bernard Richard, B.C. Representative for Children and Youth, said the announcement came as a "positive step by government."
However, he felt the age range was limiting for youth leaving foster care.
"As Representative, I have strongly advocated for free tuition being granted to former youth in care into their 30s and I will continue to do so," said Richard.
"My office expects that 20% or more of former youth in care who will be seeking tuition waivers will be over the age of 26."
Richard also expressed concerns about youth needing to be in foster care for at least two years, suggesting that this will limit some youth who were in foster care from entering post-secondary education.
Premier Horgan was raised by a single mother after his father died when Horgan was 18 months hold. His mother raised four children on her own. Horgan worked multiple jobs to pay for university, including pulp mills, serving jobs and more.
Currently in B.C., there are about 7,500 children and youth in the care of the province or on youth agreement (an out of care alternative through the ministry), according to the Ministry of Children and Family Development.