Extending foster care to 21 must be a priority for all parties
The Home Stretch is disappointed that this week’s Budget did not extend the age of leaving foster care in Victoria from 18 to 21, and is now calling upon all parties to adopt this reform in the forthcoming Victorian State election.
The economic, social and moral case for this reform to be implemented by a Victorian Government to benefit Victoria’s vulnerable young people is a no brainer, according to Home Stretch Chair Paul McDonald.
Home Stretch is calling on all parties in the forthcoming Victorian State Election to commit to extending care to 21 as part of their election platforms.
Mr McDonald said in relation to leaving care and the Victorian Budget, although some additional funds were committed to pilot programs supporting care leavers, this was no substitute for giving every young Victorian in out of home care the legislated option of extended support until 21.
“There is insurmountable evidence that cutting young people off from foster care at 18 is a major contributor to youth homelessness, poor education outcomes and unemployment,” McDonald said.
“With high rates of homelessness being experienced by this group, extending the opportunity for up to three more years of care places these young people in a stronger position to avoid the dread of the ‘too-often-frequented pathway’ of homelessness and destitution for young people leaving state care,” he said.
“We call on all parties in lead up to the Victorian election, to support this important policy change that has already been adopted following recent state elections in South Australia and Tasmania to avoid Victoria falling behind,’’ Mr McDonald said.
“Legislating the extension of care is a policy no-brainer at a time of high youth homelessness and unemployment and particularly when most young people in Australian society have the opportunity to live in their family homes well into their 20s.
“It is proven internationally to keep vulnerable young people safe and secure with a roof over their heads, proven to give them the chance to stay engaged in education and to find a job, and proven in supporting them to make the successful transition into adulthood that every young person deserves. Now that is a good policy outcome for all Victorians.”