Support for youth in the child welfare system
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Get care until you are 18
Eligibility for a Voluntary Youth Services Agreement
A Voluntary Youth Services Agreement (VYSA) is available for youth who:
- are aged 16 or 17
- cannot be adequately protected at home or in their current living situation
- have no other safe options with family or friends
- need an out-of-home placement
If you are concerned that a 16- or 17-year-old may be in need of protection; or if you are a 16- or 17-year-old and you think you may be in need of protection, you can contact the children’s aid society in your area.
Learn more about protection services for 16- and 17-Year-Olds and youth serving agencies.
Background about this program
In 2018 the age of protection in Ontario was raised from 16 to 18. As a result, 16- and 17-year-olds are now eligible for the full range of child protection services, including the option of a voluntary youth services agreement if the youth is in need of protection and an out-of-home placement is required.
Support for youth 18 to 22
The Ready, Set, Go (RSG) Program
If you are between 18 and 22 and transitioning from care, the Ready, Set, Go (RSG) program may provide:
- financial support every month:
- Age 18 - $1,800
- Age 19 - $1,500
- Age 20 - $1,000
- Age 21 - $1,000
- Age 22 - $500
- non-financial supports
You can work up to 40 hours per week at minimum wage without affecting your financial supports.
If you are in a postsecondary program or training in skilled trades and apprenticeships, you will get an additional $500 per month starting at age 20.
You are eligible to enter into a Ready, Set, Go (RSG) program agreement with a society if you are between 18 and 22 years old and:
- you were in extended society care immediately before you turned 18;
- you are a First Nations, Inuit or Métis youth, you were being cared for under a customary care agreement immediately before you turned 18, and your caregiver was receiving a subsidy from a society;
- you were a party to a Voluntary Youth Services Agreement with a society immediately before you turned 18;
- you received or were eligible to receive supports from a society under the Renewed Youth Supports program when you were 16 or 17 years old; or
- you were in interim society care immediately before you turned 18 and you turned 18 prior to April 1, 2023
- you were in extended care and a custody order was made on a status review that expired when you turned 18 (this is only the case if your caregiver does not receive a subsidy)
RSG program agreements may last for up to 12 months.
Agreements can be extended until your 23rd birthday.
Transitions planning for children in care
Societies can work with you as early as age 13 to start planning for transition to adulthood.
Before your 18th birthday we encourage you to be actively engaged in decision-making about your long-termgoals and to identify your barriers.
For more information on how to apply for this program, contact your local children’s aid society.
Finish high school
The Stay Home for School program provides funding to caregivers so they can provide a stable home for you to complete your education after you turn 18 if you require more time to finish high school.
- Be 18 or have their 18th birthday on or after June 15, 2016 and the youth must be:
- eligible for and participates in the Ready, Set, Go (RSG) program
- enrolled and participating in high school to achieve a Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalency
- registered in a minimum of two credit courses per semester
Youth do not need to apply for this program as they would already be receiving services from a children’s aid society. If you are approaching your 18th birthday and need extra time to complete high school, you should discuss this option with your society worker.
Health, vision and prescription medication coverage
The Aftercare Benefits Initiative (ABI) offers:
- access to vision, prescription drug, dental and extended health benefits when you are aged 21 to 25
- counselling and life skills support services until you are 29
Eligibility and how to apply
The program is available to:
- youth who are between 21 and 24 and are former youth in care following termination RSG program eligibility; and
- former youth in care who were adopted on or after June 1, 2016 who are between the ages of 18 and 25.
Learn more about coverage, eligibility and to apply for this program please visit Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.
Transition and life skills programs
Contact a youth-in-transition worker to get supports with accessing and navigating resources related to housing, education, employment, health (including mental health) and life skills training ensuring easier transition to independent living and adulthood.
You must be
- Between 16 and 24 and in, leaving or from the care of a Children’s Aid Society (CAS), a Voluntary Youth Services Agreement, or formal customary care and transitioning to adulthood.
- Requiring supports in the following areas: housing, education, employment, counselling, life skills, health, culture, legal and mental health.
Postsecondary and employment training
Set up a registered education savings plan (RESP)
Children’s aid societies are required to set up a registered education savings plan for eligible children and youth in care, in customary care or for youth in a Voluntary Youth Services Agreement. You can use this money to pay for expenses related to an eligible postsecondary education or vocational training programs.
Funding for postsecondary education and training
If you’re starting college or university these programs can help with the costs.
Apply for OSAP to get tuition grants, bursaries, income exemptions, loans and university application fee refunds.
Get help completing high school and with your transition to college or university. Learn more about scholarships, bursaries, financial literacy and programs that provide mentorship, peer support, motivation and guidance.
Full-time students aged 21-24 who are receiving OSAP can receive up to $2,000 per semester to help with living costs.
If you are, or were, a child in extended society care and you would like to go to college or university, you can be reimbursed for the cost of applying to college or university.
Understand your rights
The children and young persons’ rights resource can help you understand your rights if you are receiving services under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017, (CYFSA). This resource, written in youth-friendly language, covers the rights that are set out in:
- Part II of the CYFSA: Children’s and Young Persons’ Rights, which outlines the rights of all children receiving services, as well as additional rights for children in care (for example, group care, foster care and youth justice facilities).
- Part X of the CYFSA: Personal Information, which outlines rights related to the collection, use and disclosure of your personal information.
Parents, caregivers and staff can also use the rights resource to support and understand the rights of children and young people.