Give our foster kids a better go
|Herald Sun, Melbourne by Susie O’Brien||22 May 2018|
|Care until 21 pays off, says AnglicareFOSTER care should be extended from 18 to 21 years in a bid to stop vulnerable teenagers becoming homeless, a key Victorian foster care provider says.
Anglicare has launched the Home Stretch campaign to lobby the state government to stop 18-year-olds leaving care with nowhere else to go.
It is estimated 700 teenagers turn 18 and leave foster care nationally each year. Half of these will become homeless, unemployed or have contact with the youth justice system.
A survey of 1000 Victorians commissioned by Home Stretch released today shows 76 per cent of Victorians support the move.
This view is equally supported by voters from both parties, including 73.8 per cent of Labor voters and 73.5 per cent of Liberal voters.
The campaign will be unveiled today at the Victorian State Library ahead of the November state election.
Home Stretch chair Paul McDonald said the increase in care time was a “simple, proven reform that has enormous potential to change the lives of our state’s most vulnerable young people for the better”.
“United States, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have all seen the economic benefits following the extension of care,” he said.
“There are also the added benefits of relieving pressure on other services such as housing and the justice system.” Extending the care for three more years would allow foster carers to continue to receive support and funding from the state government.
The extension has already been supported by the South Australian and Tasmanian governments, and the group is also lobbying New South Wales politicians.
Mr McDonald said Deloitte Access Economics data commissioned by Home Stretch found Victoria would derive a financial return between $1.84 and $2.53 for every dollar it invested into extending state care. “If the politicians aren’t listing to the fiscal data then we hope that the voters’ sentiment will kick them into gear,” he said.
Home Stretch Victorian cochair Deb Tsorbaris said it was “unrealistic to expect any young person to have everything they need organised by the time they turn 18”.
Featured in the Herald Sun 22 May 2018 (Page 13)