Leaving care: the argument to raise from 18 to 21

A seminar at my local university, Southern Cross, here on the Gold Coast, where Paul McDonald of Home Stretch speaks about the campaign to support young people in care until they are at least 21. The evidence is there, he says, and is supported by research from Deloitte Access Economics, as well as countries that have taken the lead: New Zealand, the UK, US and Canada. It’s not just about the cost benefit return of course (though for state governments that carries weight) but about giving dignity to young people, giving them hope. I know that my own son, now 24, would not have coped if, at 18, he had been asked to leave home. And how would he, as a 15 year old, have managed a leaving care plan with a caseworker insisting, however politely, that it ‘has to be done’? I have worked in Out of Home Care, worked with 17 year olds about to leave the Care of the Minister – most gladly it must be said – and I’m still in touch with some who are now 20, and still doing it tough. A clutch of states in Australia are moving towards continued support, where needed, up to 21. But the biggest, NSW, continues to resist. Yes, it is true, NSW, does offer financial support, with conditions, until 25. But money is not only what these young people need. They need and are entitled to emotional and social support, stability and above all trust that there’s someone they can turn to in the dark times. Taken together with the fact that affordable housing is extremely limited and pretty much unavailable to young, single people…check out http://thehomestretch.org.au/

 

Author: john pitt

Social worker/creative

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