‘Kidults’ new research
I read with interest about young adults moving back in with parents and how many parents would support their kids in doing so. It is unsurprising that young people resort to this in today’s tough economic climate.
I can’t help but think about the kids who live under state protection, in Out of Home Care, who are left behind when they move towards independence. These kids are forced from their homes when they turn 18 – regardless of if they are ready or not. When the day comes, these kids are left with nothing more than a hand shake from their case worker. It’s no wonder that within a year, half of them will become homeless, unemployed, a new parent, or involved with the justice system. With their first taste of adulthood, they are set up to fail.
While the ‘Kidults’ referred to in the study can rely on their families for emotional and financial support, kids in the care system required to leave their state care before they turn 18 years and have no option to return to that care if they struggle with life without such support.
And these are our most vulnerable children with backgrounds of abuse and neglect in their families – kids who need the most support. How can we expect them to work towards independence when so many children from stable, happy homes are needing to continue to live with mum and dad as adults?
The US and UK, and more recently New Zealand child welfare systems have all recognised this anomaly and the poor outcomes that young people experience when care ends at 18 years. They have introduced the option for young people to have their care extended to 21 – resulting in halving of homelessness and doubling in education participation for this group. What other single reform could show these type of social and economic outcomes?
Why can’t we do the same and reap the benefits they are?
It is time we learn from the experience of other countries and stop setting children in state care up for failure, before they are ready to leave, before they have gained the skills to transition into independence and before they turn 21.
Let’s give the ‘kidults’ of the state care system every chance through to at least 21 and provide them with the care and support they need to make a successful transition into independence.
Irina Stojcevska – The Home Stretch Campaign
Read the article in the Herald Sun here.