Manitoba extends supports for CFS wards aging out of care during coronavirus pandemic

The Manitoba government is extending support and services for those aging out of the Child and Family Services system during COVID-19.

The province said Wednesday it will continue to support all youth currently in care who turn 18 between March 20 and Sept. 30.

“This pandemic is creating uncertainty for all Manitobans, including many youth in our child welfare system,” said Families Minister Heather Stefanson in a release.

“Our government will ensure young people who would otherwise age out of CFS care have access to continued financial and other support when they turn 18, giving them a greater chance of independence and success beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will work with child welfare authorities and agencies to ensure funding and supports are in place to make this possible.”

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The move will see foster care placements extended and financial support put in place for those who choose to move out of care, said Stefanson.

The province also says it will extend assistance to those who have chosen to transition from care through an Agreement with a Young Adult, which provides continued care and maintenance funding up to the age of 21.

Those who currently have a voluntary agreement in place will continue to receive assistance over the same timeframe, regardless of the age, the province said.

The changes are expected to help more than 280 youth in care and more than 70 young adults with agreements, according to the province.

Manitoba Housing will also make 10 additional units available to provide for young adults who are aging out of care and other youth in contact with the child welfare system.

Those spaces will be set aside for clients of Resource Assistance for Youth, said Stefanson.

“The steps the government has taken today for youth aging out of care will help us protect at-risk young people during this difficult time,” said Kelly Holmes, executive director of Resource Assistance for Youth.

“We are all in this together and we appreciate the timely response from the government during this time of crisis.”

Further changes announced during the crisis include an extension of foster home and residential care licenses for 60 days and the activation of a mutual aid agreement with child welfare authorities to help make sure staff and supports are available when needed.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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