Youth and their allies celebrate outside City Hall in Vancouver on Aug. 16, 2019 at Fostering Change’s 19th birthday party for youth transitioning out of care. Photo by Brielle Morgan.

A birthday party to remember for youth transitioning out of B.C.’s child-welfare system

"Many youth miss out on this milestone birthday due to the current transition standards that do not afford them guaranteed stability, housing or safety," says organizer.

It’s not a typical birthday party, but there is nothing typical about “aging out” of B.C.’s child-welfare system when you turn 19.

As a way of honouring youth who are transitioning out of government care this year, Fostering Change is inviting youth in and from care and their allies to come together and celebrate their 19th birthdays at Vancouver’s City Hall on Aug. 20. 

“We know that when transitioning from government care to adulthood, many youth miss out on this milestone birthday due to the current transition standards that do not afford them guaranteed stability, housing or safety,” writes Fostering Change in its invitation

“With [the] loss of their social safety nets, youth are not able to have the same luxury, time or energy to celebrate themselves. That’s where we come in.” 

Partygoers can look forward to food, treats, small gift bags and “group activities designed and facilitated by the youth team,” according to the invite. 

This year’s “We All Turn 19” party, will be the 4th annual 19th Birthday Party hosted by Fostering Change — a youth-led campaign “focused on improving outcomes for youth leaving government care.” .

Ashley, who experienced government care in B.C., speaks outside City Hall in Vancouver on Aug. 16, 2019 at Fostering Change’s 19th birthday celebration for youth transitioning out of care. Photo by Brielle Morgan.

In a letter sent to B.C. Premier John Horgan on July 7, Fostering Change defined itself as “a group of over 130 active youth advocates, made up of current and former youth in care.”

Since 2015, Fostering Change has worked to prevent youth homelessness, expand government supports available to youth who have been in care, and ensure that available supports were extended during the COVID-19 pandemic, as previously reported by IndigiNews

In 2019-20, 894 youth transitioned out of B.C.’s care (including those who were on Youth Agreements), when they turned 19. Indigenous youth made up nearly half (47 per cent) of all those who transitioned out, as Indigenous children are grossly overrepresented in B.C.’s child-welfare system due to colonial policies and systemic racism.  

This year’s birthday party will take place on Aug. 20 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. It will also be live streamed (details pending). If any youth plan to attend virtually, they can RVSP here and provide their email address “to receive an Uber Eats gift card electronically to enjoy some nourishment while joining the celebration.”

“Together [we] will be toasting to the successes of all youth who have transitioned,” writes Fostering Change.