A Liberal Government program which extended carer payments for young people up to the age of 21 has already been accessed by 17 young people and more than 100 are set to become eligible over the next three years.
A further four young people who are yet to turn 18 have been referred to the program.
The Stability in Family Based Care program provides all family-based carers which includes foster, kinship and specific child-only carers, who continue to care for a young person after their long-term court order or other formal agreement expires at 18 years, extended carer payments up to 21 years.
The program, which launched in January, was a key election promise in the Liberal Government’s Strong Plan for Real Change and was implemented within the first 100 days of government.
Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said she was pleased to see carers and young people taking up the extended payments.
“I’m thrilled our carers and young people are taking up the extended carer payments because we know children thrive in family-based environments,” said Minister Sanderson.
“We know that young people who are supported in the family home past the age of 18 are going to do better in terms of their education, employment, friendships and support groups and their well-being.
“This program is providing our vulnerable young people with the extra security they need to branch out into the workforce, attend university of gain further training.
“Past research found that 30 per cent of children leaving care were homeless within 12 months. This was not a statistic I was prepared to accept, so I garnered support from my colleagues to introduce this significant reform.
“I urge carers to have the conversation with their foster children about the benefits of staying at home for longer and consider taking up this very worthwhile program.”
The carers of young people who turned 18 after 1 July 2018 are eligible to receive fortnightly payments of $738.40. Young people aged 17.5 can apply to the program.
Department for Child Protection Chief Executive Cathy Taylor said the program was designed to ensure that young people who have had a care experience are well-supported to find their feet as they approach adulthood.
It is also recognition of the important work our foster and kinship carers do in providing a safe and loving environment for vulnerable young people.
“Hopefully this program gives them the financial support they need to put their hand up to care for more children and young people in the future,” said Ms Taylor.
Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA Chief Executive Officer Fiona Endacott welcomed the program and said it was a positive support for long-term carers and the young people they care for.
“Some of the feedback we received from our members is that more young people are staying at home into their 20s and still need that additional support before branching out on their own,” said Ms Endacott.
“The additional payments are beneficial in supporting the carer to continue to provide a safe and nurturing home, while the young person transitions into adulthood.”