Victoria Extends State Care to 21
25 September 2018 at 4:36 pm
Advocates hope Victorian foster children will no longer face the threat of homelessness once they turn 18, with the state government extending state care to 21 years.
While most young people still rely on their parents to help them out after celebrating their 18th birthday, Victorians in state care have their formal support terminated at 18.
But on Tuesday, the Victorian government pledged $11.6 million to roll out the Home Stretch program from early 2019, giving young people the option of remaining with their carer until they hit 21.
The move was strongly welcomed by advocates, who say many young people forced to leave the care system at 18 experienced homelessness, suffered unemployment, and become involved with crime.
— Uniting VicTas (@UnitingVT) September 24, 2018
Home Stretch chair Paul McDonald told Pro Bono News this reform, along with the announcement of increased support for care leavers with their housing costs, would positively impact the number of care leavers suffering homelessness.
“It’s pleasing the government will develop housing support arrangements for young people in residential care that will also be guaranteed through to 21,” McDonald said.
The program will initially help 250 young care leavers, and extend care allowance support to foster and kinship carers.
Additionally, specialised workers will provide tailored support to help young people get jobs and access education.
Victorian Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said the program was an investment in young people to “contribute more to our community”.
At @CFECFW election forum, I announced $11.6M for Home Stretch to begin in the 1st half of 2019, money being delivered here & now, to give young people leaving care more support until they’re 21 https://t.co/ib6uXzM5UZ #springst #makeit21 #madeit21 @The_HomeStretch @AnglicareVic
— Jenny Mikakos MP (@JennyMikakos) September 24, 2018
Victoria joins Tasmania and South Australia as the only states who have so far committed to extending state care to 21 years.
McDonald said it was important the program was implemented well for the initial 250 participants to build a case for other state governments to follow suit.
“Home Stretch will not only be working with the Victorian Government to implement this policy, but campaigning in other states to ensure we have a policy of continued care through to 21 available right around Australia,” he said.
This follows the recent announced by Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy that the Liberal-Nationals would conduct a two year pilot program for the extension of state care to 21, if elected at the 24 November state election.