VincentCare CEO John Blewonski today welcomed the State Government’s announcement that it will extend support for young people living in care from 18 to 21.
Mr Blewonski said the increase in age recognises the difficulty that all young people have in finding independent living arrangements. He said it would also better assist these young people in making a successful transition from state care to independent living.
Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos announced $11.6 million funding in five years to roll out Home Stretch. This starts in the first half of 2019, which will give young people the option of remaining with their carer until the age of 21.
“For young people who may have spent their whole lives in care, leaving doesn’t come easy,” Mikakos said. “We know we can do more to support them so that they’re empowered.”
Home Stretch will arm young people with the tools they need to live on their own two feet, as well as extending care allowance support to foster and kinship carers.
In addition, specialised workers will provide tailored support to young people, helping them to get jobs and access education, as well as training and life coaching to help young people set goals and aspirations for their future.
Carers will also be eligible to be reimbursed for the costs of caring for the young person. Young people leaving residential care will be eligible for support with housing costs.
CEO John Blewonski said more young people than ever before have fallen out of state care and into a cycle of poverty and homelessness.
“Having a roof over their head and the support they need to look after their health, find a job, or get involved in education and training will help young care leavers to make a successful transition to adult life,” Mr Blewonski said.
Home Stretch aligns with the Labor Government’s Roadmap for Reform, which aims to shift the children and family services system from crisis response to early intervention and prevention, and is backed by a further $858.6 million through this year’s Budget.
“Every dollar we spend on supporting young people as they prepare to leave care, we get repaid in spades – they will do better and contribute more to our community,” Minister Mikakos says.