Supporting care-leavers during a Pandemic – how has your State or Territory responded to COVID-19?
The COVID-19 crisis has had a dramatic impact on life for a child in out-of-home care. Furthermore, the flow-on effects to the education, employment and the housing sectors will make it increasingly difficult for a young person to make a positive start to adult life after exiting state care. Now more than ever, our most vulnerable young people require your ongoing support.
Given the heightened risks of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable Victorians, in April 2020 Home Stretch wrote to all state and territory governments seeking immediate support for a united national initiative to extend state care for the duration of 2020, so that any young person, in state care, can continue to receive the same care arrangements regardless of their order expiring during this time.
Has your State or Territory taken action? Here is our break-down:
Victoria formally announced $4 million in funding to support young people currently in care, due to turn 18 before December this year. Full expansion of the Home Stretch program will allow all young keep their current foster or kinship care arrangements, or support independent living for this time.
Northern Territory advised it is currently undertaking an extended age care trial until the end of 2020 for all young people over 18 years as part of an agreed response to COVID-19.
Queensland has fast tracked their extension to the foster care allowance for carers until the young person turns 19. Sadly this does not include extended support for young people in residential, SILS or non-approved placements.
Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and ACT responded to our letters advising that they would consider providing more support for care leavers on a case-by-case basis. However, there is no specific entitlement.
Western Australia is yet to respond to our letter.
Home Stretch will not stop our campaigning efforts across Australia until all young people have the care option until they turn 21, particularly during this uncertain time.
Australia’s care-leavers deserve it and the overwhelming evidence shows that it sets them up for a better chance at life. Show your support – sign the pledge to #makeit21.