Letnick: Paying for post-secondary education

The B.C. government has launched the Single Parent Employment Initiative to help these individuals find long-term, sustainable employment.

Now we’re well into October, children in Kelowna have eased back into the back-to-school routine—and so havemom and dad!

There’s always some stress as we resume busy school schedules, school lunches, homework and more.

Sometimes there are financial stresses associated with going back to school, particularly for single parents on income and disability assistance.

That’s why our [B.C.] government has launched the Single Parent Employment Initiative to help these individuals find long-term, sustainable employment.

More than 16,000 single parents on income and disability assistance will have access to a wide range of supports under this program. These can include up to 12 months of funded training for an in-demand job, or a paid work experience placement; as well as child care costs during training or work placement, and for the first year of employment; public transit costs to and from school; as well as a variety of services offered through WorkBC Employment Services Centres, like resumé writing workshops and interview preparation.

In addition, recent changes to our government’s income assistance program means families on income and disability assistance are eligible for an increased earnings exemption—from $200 to $400 per month, or $300 to $500 per month for individuals with a child with disabilities—as well as supplemental health coverage for a year after they leave income assistance for employment.

To learn more about Single Parent Employment Initiative, visit the website www.sdsi.gov.bc.ca/programs/spei.html.

Our government also promised to help all parents kick-start their savings plan for their child’s education, and we’re delivering.

We brought in the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant, a one-time $1,200 payment into the Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) of eligible children born in or after 2007.

It will help families plan and save for their children’s post-secondary education so they can take advantage of B.C.’s strong and growing economy.

It’s a simple process. All families need to do is open an RESP account to get the grant. No matching or additional contributions are required. Central 1 Credit Union is the host organization of the grant for their 42 member credit unions, consisting of 365 branches throughout British Columbia.

B.C. credit unions are the first to offer the grant and it’s anticipated that more financial institutions will get on board in the months to come.

It’s important to note that education and training after graduation can help unlock success. Even a small amount of savings in an RESP increases the likelihood that a child will continue their studies after high school.

To learn more about the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant, call 1-888-276-3624 or visit the website www.gov.bc.ca/BCTESG.

As new grandparents, my wife Helene and I wish for nothing more than the brightest future for little Luna—and we know you feel the same way about your children and grandchildren. Programs like these will no doubt help people of all ages build a better future for themselves and their families.