For the second year in a row, Dylan Cohen the founder of a group called ‘Fostering Change’ has taken a group of 45 teens to the Victoria Parliament buildings on October 24 to lobby for changes to the current foster care system and the flaws that come along with it. Cohen is an indigenous young man who was put into foster care at the age of 14 and was separated from his family and community. He has experienced homelessness and ‘aging out’ first hand, which is the reason why he wants to help the 8000 children and teenagers in foster care today; he wants to make sure there are more resources for teenagers after they have aged out. Aging out is when a teenager hits the age of 19 and they are forced out of all government care and are unprepared to be on their own.
It is stressful for teens to realize that soon they will age out. 57% of teens who age out end up homeless. 53% graduate with a high school diploma and with somewhere to go, but that doesn’t mean it’s a safe and good place. About 1000 teens age out every year; according to the statistics that leaves 500 teens homeless.
School district 43 student, Cade Schneider, is a young person who is familiar with the system. Schneider spent time in the system for six months last year from August to December. In those six months, she went to two different homes. The first home she was placed in was a group home where she said the conditions were great; she got three meals a day, a warm bed and a comfortable place to sleep. In that home, though, she saw someone age out in a horrible way. A few months later, Schneider was placed in another home where the conditions were much worse, unfortunately. After she was eventually placed back home with her family, she decided she wanted to get involved with advocating for change. She was one of the 45 teens who went to Victoria.
Schneider and many other teens went to parliament to lobby the people in power. She spoke to the Ministry of Housings minister, Selina Robinson, trying to figure out less stressful arrangements for young people in the system. She also is part of a peer counseling program talking to other young people who have suffered in the system. “I tell them how hard we are trying to make a difference for them,” said Schneider.
‘Fostering Change’ hopes to make a difference, and they hope to spark new changes and improvements in the system for youth in British Columbia and all over Canada. If you feel like you have suffered in the foster care system don’t be afraid to ask for help and click the link under peer counseling.
Feature photo courtesy of the Fostering Change twitter page.