Supporting foster kids until 21 would slash homelessness and teen pregnancies, study finds

Supporting foster kids until 21 would slash homelessness and teen pregnancies, study finds

Wednesday 24 October 2018

By: Dave Marchese

Becoming an adult is an exciting time for most young people.

But while her mates were planning their 18ths and picking out their formal dresses, Rosie Curtis was scared.

“I was dreading turning 18 because I knew I was going to be out on my own.”

Rosie had spent the past 10 years in foster care.

But while there was plenty of support for her as a 17-year-old, reaching 18 meant a whole lot of changes for Rosie.

“You’re basically evicted from the foster care system and you’re an adult now so you have to look after yourself.

“You have to make sacrifices and instead of continuing to study you need to get a full time job to support yourself.

“It’s quite daunting.”

Filling in the gaps

Rosie was one of a lucky few people able to find support through a program run by welfare group, Anglicare.

The group is now pushing governments around the country to address this gap in services for young adults, and urging them to keep providing to support to young people in out-of-home care up until the age of 21.

A woman in a pink jumpsuit holding a pink "R" balloon

Rosie Curtis was dreading turning 18 after spending 10 years in foster care.

They have released a study by Deloitte Access Economics today that takes a look at the financial and social impacts of making the change in New South Wales.

And Anglicare reckons the New South Wales government would end up saving millions of dollars each year.

Paul McDonald from the Home Stretch Campaign told Hack the benefits would be across the board.

The study compared outcomes in Australia to other places around the world where support is offered beyond the age of 18 and found the risk of homelessness halved from 39 per cent to 20 per cent.

It also found the rate of mental illness reduced from 54 per cent to 30 per cent and even the rate of smoking was cut in half.

‘It’s a no brainer’

In the past six months Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia have all started implementing policies to offer more support to young people in out-of-home care until the age of 21.

But Paul McDonald says New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory are yet to act.

“No minister in the New South Wales government or Queensland government for that matter are thinking about kicking out their own children just before their 18th birthday.

Last year there were almost 18,000 children in out-of-home care in New South Wales, with more than 800 of those being 17 years old.

Children from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background are 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care.

Hack approached the NSW Community Services Minister Pru Goward for comment and a spokesperson said the Minister would consider the recommendations.

Rosie Curtis says it’s a no brainer.

“At 18 you think you’re an adult but you’re actually not,” she said.

“This is paramount to successful lives.”

Read original article here.

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Every child deserves to be supported into adulthood – extending out of home care until the age of 21 will give thousands of young people the additional guidance they need to have a real shot at life.

 

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