Kids should be in care until 21: report
March 7, 2016
By Angus Livingstone.
KIDS should stay in foster care until they are 21 instead of being evicted at 18, an Anglicare Victoria report says.
TEENAGERS turfed out of foster care regularly become homeless, go to prison, have a child or move home a number of times within the first 12 months.
Parts of England and the USA have changed the state care release date to 21, and the report says it’s meant strong results.
“Homeless rates would halve, and education engagement rates would double. That’s what the overseas evidence shows,” Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald told AAP.
“50 per cent of Australian families have 18-24-year-olds still living at home. What we’re saying is that we think 18 is a premature time in the development of these young people.” Mr McDonald said the cost would not be as significant as people think, and for every dollar spent keeping a child in care past 18, $2 benefit would be returned to the state.
“The care system in Australia doesn’t finish off well,” he said.
“We just wish them luck (when they turn 18).”
Victorian Children’s Commissioner Bernie Geary last week launched a landmark report into abuse of children in state care and he recommended more children be moved into foster care.
Mr McDonald said the two reports came from a similar place of wanting to invest in children the state had taken into care.
“Our job is not just managing these children in care, it’s actually raising them,” Mr McDonald said.
The report calls for a trial attaching nurses to out-of-home care providers to monitor and assess physical and mental health milestones of children.
Reporting mechanisms must be strengthened, including a rigorous tracking of children once they leave care, the report said.
It also found 41 per cent of children in care have emotional or behavioural difficulties, compared to the general Australian figure of 18 per cent.
Just 15 per cent of children in state care regularly saw all of their siblings.
“Family matters. Sibling contact matters. We all want to know where we belong,” Mr McDonald said.
Original article here.