ACTCOSS welcomes motion to extend out-of-home care to 21

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) welcomes the motion by Shadow Minister Families, Youth and Community Services, Elizabeth Kikkert MLA, to support the extension of out-of-home care for young people to the age of 21.

The ACT Government through the 10th Parliamentary & Governing Agreement includes improving the extended care of 18- to 21-year-olds in the out-of-home care system as one of its agreed legislative reforms. Currently, young people and carers are able to opt in to arrangements, with carers receiving a subsidy. However, this is determined on a case-by-case basis, and is only available to young people living with a kinship or foster carer.

ACTCOSS is part of the Home Stretch campaign which is working to ensure all young people leaving the care system are able to access extended care to 21 years of age.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “The first few years of adulthood can be a challenging time for any young person, but particularly so for those transitioning out of care. Many young people rely on one of Australia’s biggest lenders, the Bank of Mum and Dad, for financial and other supports as they leave home and find their feet – however, young people leaving care arrangements may not have access to these supports. They should be able to access a safe, secure and supported independent living program to maximise their opportunities for study and work.

“ACTCOSS has been advocating for an increase in investment in the out-of-home care system including an extension of supported placements for all young people in out-of-home care, without individual assessments and incremental approval, from 18 to 21 years; and access to an aftercare service for young people up to the age of 25 years.

“From January this year, all young people in Victoria are eligible for extended care to 21 years that provides support including housing allowances, an allocated worker and brokerage per young person for education, employment and other expenses. It also includes the ability to re-enter the care system for support if they have left care at 18 but later find themselves homeless.

“We hope that the ACT Government will follow Victoria and to ensure young people exiting care get the support they need. Support that is non-discretionary, accessible, and covers young people no matter what form of care they are exiting,” Dr Campbell concluded.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

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