02/03/2014 04:51 EST | Updated 04/05/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C. children's ministry announces pilot project for vulnerable older youth

VICTORIA - British Columbia's children's minister says a pilot project with the Vancouver-area YWCA will teach life skills to vulnerable youth as they transition out of government care.

Stephanie Cadieux said Monday the $250,000 Strive program is aimed at helping youth between 17 and 24 years old gain the life and work skills they need to become independent.

Starting next month, groups of 10 people will spend 12 weeks in the program learning skills including financial literacy, time management, decision making and problem solving.

Cadieux said she estimates between 50 and 60 people will participate. She said if the pilot is a success, the ministry will consider similar programs across the province.

"What we're looking at is to see through this project what success is like, what some of the challenges are, and evaluate it and determine whether or not it is something that is worthwhile," said Cadieux.

"We anticipate a great deal of success and hopefully there will be."

Cadieux said participants will spend the first four weeks attending the YWCA Career Zone Youth Centre, while the final eight weeks will involve personalized coaching and support.

B.C.'s independent children's representative, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, said in a statement the program will offer young people much-needed transition skills.

Turpel-Lafond, who has repeatedly said the government doesn't do enough to help young people transitioning out of care, was granted an extended advocacy mandate last year the includes youth from 19 to 24 years.

"The YWCA Metro Vancouver is showing strong leadership in working with (the ministry) to help make the transition to adulthood a more resilient one for young people leaving care," said Turpel-Lafond's statement.

"These youth are among the most vulnerable in our province and anything that can be done to ease their transition is a positive."