Newly named SAJE supports offer youth in care a stronger path to adulthood
May 30, 2023
VICTORIA – Youth and young adults who have been in government care in British Columbia are receiving expanded supports through the newly named Strengthening Abilities and Journeys of Empowerment (SAJE) program.
The name was chosen by the ministry’s Youth Advisory Council after online engagement. It reflects a positive approach that celebrates the journey from youth to adulthood.
“The journey from youth to adulthood presents challenges for everyone, but it’s especially hard for young people who have had their connections with family undergo significant changes or disruptions,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “What happens as we transition from youth to adulthood shapes the rest of our lives, which is why we’re working hard to build a system of supports that gives young people who have experienced government care the help they need to thrive.”
Services and supports through SAJE have been available to youth and young adults 19 and older since 2022. The program is continuing to expand and improve.
Recent enhancements include:
- $600 every two years for glasses and contacts, which has expanded to include eye exams;
- dental coverage has increased to up to $1,000 a year;
- expanded housing flexibility for youth between the ages of 19 and 21; and
- expanding the maximum duration of supports for up to 84 months until age 27.
“I am absolutely thrilled by how the new youth transition to adulthood program expands benefits and supports for young people,” said Seb Hable, member of the Minister’s Youth Advisory Council, who led the youth engagement process. “The new program will play a vital role in enhancing access to crucial tools such as education, life skills and financial assistance.”
Further amendments coming into effect in spring 2024 will make emergency pandemic housing supports permanent. This will enable the ministry to support all young adults from care up to the age 27, something it didn’t previously have the mandate and legal authority to do.
These additional enhancements to the SAJE program build on initial supports, including a no-limit earnings exemption, and rent supplements of $600 a month to help with housing costs as young adults begin to live independently. As of May 2023, more than 1,100 young adults from care have received monthly rent supplements. The next application period will open in fall 2023.
To help youth and young adults navigate the supports available to them, the ministry is hiring new workers. SAJE “navigators” support youth in care as young as 14 by working together to identify goals and develop, and support a plan to transition from care. SAJE “guides” connect young adults from care to supports and services and assist them in achieving their goals through to their 25th birthday.
The ministry’s Youth Advisory Council, a group of young adults who use their lived experience with the government’s care system to improve the quality of care for B.C. children and youth, were instrumental in developing the new SAJE program name.
To find out more about improved supports for youth transitioning from care, visit: https://www.gov.bc.ca/youthtransitions
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Children and Family Development
Expanded supports for youth from care
Updated May 30, 2023, for clarification
Announced in Budget 2022, the Ministry of Children and Family Development is creating a comprehensive suite of services and benefits to support youth and young adults from care. The SAJE program is being implemented over three years. It started in 2022 and will continue through 2024. When fully implemented, the new supports will be available to up to 10,000 eligible youth and young adults.
The latest SAJE enhancements were announced during B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week 2023 at the Child and Youth Art Gallery Exhibit in Victoria. The exhibit, held at Victoria City Hall on May 30-31, showcases the diverse artistic talents of children and youth in care. The public is encouraged to attend the event to view the work of these young artists.
Since 2022, the Province has introduced:
- March 2022: Housing extension
- Extended temporary housing supports to allow young adults to continue to stay in their homes past the age of 19 and up to their 21st birthday.
- August 2022: No-limit earnings exemption
- Makes employment income exempt when determining the level of funding a young adult will receive through SAJE programming.
- October 2022: Rent supplements
- Recipients receive $600 a month for two years or up until the month of their 27th birthday, so long as they continue to meet eligibility criteria.
- 50% of rent supplements in each intake window are available for Indigenous young adults.
- February 2023: SAJE navigators and guides
- New workers will support youth in care starting at age 14 and guide them in accessing services until age 25.
- April 2023: duration extension for SAJE supports
- Eligible youth from care can now access supports and services offered through SAJE for 84 months or up until their 27th birthday (formerly 48 months).
- April 2023: Additional housing flexibility
- This flexibility makes housing supports more flexible to allow young adults on a temporary housing agreement (THA) to access a temporary support agreement (TSA) on their 19th birthday, regardless of their living arrangement, and the ability to move from a THA to a TSA at any time between their 19th and 21st birthday.
Additional supports coming in 2023 and 2024 include:
- Effective Aug. 1, 2023, all former youth in care, no matter their age, will be eligible to have post-secondary education tuition waived through the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program.
- Starting Sept. 1, 2023, a new grant will provide up to $3,500 annually to support tuition waiver recipients in covering additional expenses, such as textbooks and computers.
- An unconditional monthly income supplement of up to $1,250 until age 20 to cover living expenses for all eligible young adults from care.
- The option to maintain the monthly income supplement if the young adult participates in programming, such as finishing high school or attending post-secondary, vocational training, life skills, mental health and/or rehabilitation programs.
- New life-skills, culture and training program support that will provide enhanced funding for young adults to access these types of programs.
- Enhanced medical benefits that will provide access to counselling.
Ministry of Children and Family Development