Enhancements to two government programs announced today, Oct. 27, will break down barriers and help more vulnerable Nova Scotians to continue and complete their education after high school. “Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and finding employment,” said Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard. “Our programs help those on Income Assistance access post-secondary education, but barriers remain. Clients have told us they can’t attend classes without things like child care, transportation, books or Internet access. They also can’t afford education for their children. These enhancements will help to eliminate those barriers.” The Career Seek Program provides eligible clients, who are financing their own education, with ongoing shelter and personal allowances while they attend a post-secondary program. The program’s financial supports are expanding to include one year of tuition, all student fees and all book costs, as well as an expansion of personal allowances to include child care and transportation, student fees, Internet access, and incidentals to help with integration into campus life. The Educate to Work Program allows eligible clients to stay on Income Assistance and pays tuition and textbook costs for programs at the Nova Scotia Community College or a private career college. The program has been expanded to include some financial supports for eligible dependents of clients. Eligible dependents will receive funding for half the cost of tuition and full funding for text books, student fees, and health and dental insurance for core Nova Scotia community college programs. Research shows that people with post-secondary education get better jobs and higher lifelong earnings. The department has also launched a pilot project with Phoenix Youth Program to support 10 at-risk youth in post-secondary programming. These youth will already be supported by Phoenix programs – half will also be Income Assistance clients and half will be youth that are not otherwise attached to the department, but may be at risk of attaching. “Now college can be a reality for anyone in the Phoenix Program who dreams big,” said Melanie Sturk, the program’s acting executive director. “The Department of Community Services listened to the needs of Phoenix. Making Educate to Work funding more accessible for up to 10 youth is a game changer and will help open the door to their post-secondary education.” The changes are part of the department’s overall transformation process, and are effective immediately. They will be funded within the department’s existing budget with some eligible costs covered by federal funding under the Labour Market Development Agreement. Enhancements have also been announced for Labour and Advanced Education’s Skills Development Program which helps many eligible Nova Scotians return to the classroom. Participants can now receive up to an additional $100 a week for living expenses and $100 per week for care for each child or dependent, up from $100 per week, per family. If you are a dependent and are interested in the Educate to Work program, please call 1-844-424-3720.