WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba Metis Child and Family Services agencies have issued an order to maintain support of those who will be aging out of care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order means they will contravene Section 50(2) of the Manitoba Children and Family Services Act that prohibits support after youth turn 21.

“During the COVID-19 Pandemic, all youth who will be turning 18 (despite their legal status – Permanent, Temporary or on a Voluntary Placement Agreement) or who are currently on an Agreement with Young Adults and turning 21, will continue to receive financial support from the Metis Child and Family Services System should they choose continued support of the agencies,” the directive reads.

If a youth on a worker’s caseload is turning 18 during the pandemic, workers will complete an agreement with the young adult and identify that this is specific to the pandemic. Extensions will be up to three months or until the crisis of the pandemic has been resolved.

If the pandemic has not been resolved by the end of the three months, the agreement will be reviewed to determine whether it will need to be renewed or terminated.

“Our intention is not to defy laws,” said Metis CFS Authority Chief Executive Officer Billie Schibler in a statement. “We have weighed our options very carefully, but when it comes down to it, our Metis CFS Authority and its agencies live and work by always asking ourselves ‘Is it good for the children?’

“So in the end the decision to extend services for youth over the age of 21 years was easy. We cannot send our young people out the door without supports during the COVID-19 Pandemic. “

“Our Manitoba Metis Government has been working tirelessly for months to support our Metis Citizens, especially our most vulnerable Metis citizens during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Metis Federation, in a statement. “We are proud of our Metis Child and Family Services Authority for the leadership they are showing in being the first CFS organization in Manitoba to step up and formally commit to support these young people.”

The intent will be to provide humanitarian services, continued security, and a more stable foundation for youth who could be more at risk during the pandemic.

The organization says youth have the right to refuse the assistance.