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May 27th, 2020

Welcome to a new section of our newsletter inviting carers to provide a space for carer to carer information and experiences. Our first carer voice is Debbie Green. Debbie has worked and volunteered in many caring roles over the past 45 years. Debbie has generously agreed to share her experiences being a carer and particularly with accessing extended care for her 18 year old.

Debbie and her husband have adult children who have moved away and have had two young men in permanent care aged 16 and 18 for the past 4 years.

 

“Both young men have lots of challenges, and they also have lots of ability despite their disabilities, they just learn differently. We have just settled into home schooling, and that is running smoothly now we have ironed out the bumps. The boys’ workstations are set up on the kitchen table in the hub of the house.”

We have been trying for 12 months or more to get information on Better Futures through my agencies. For a young person to be eligible for HomeStretch they have to first be registered with Better Futures. It has been an uphill battle assisting him to register to date due to confusing or lack of information, lack of communication and training for myself, the agencies and Better Futures.

It has been hard to confirm if or when it will be rolled out in the Eastern suburbs. I assumed that because he was already registered with Leaving Care since 2017 and has disabilities and no reunification with biological family, that my now 18 .5months old young person would have automatically been transferred from Leaving Care to Better Futures. This is not the case at all. While he hasn’t been rejected for eligibility, he just hasn’t been registered for Homestretch due to the misunderstanding with the Agency and DHHS whilst he is still completing year 12. I will be asking more about HomeStretch registration with Better Futures around September 2020 so we have time to register him for the 2021 funding lottery.

My biggest recommendation to carers is to not give up, stay calm, remove the emotion, and send regular emails (for paper trail) to case manager of your OOHC agency, and case manager of Better Futures so they know you and the young person are still interested as your young person gets closer to turning 18. Continue requesting a team meeting 6 months prior and then 3 months prior to young person turning 18 to keep track of where their application is in the system.

Ask for your own support. You will also be going through transition whether your young person stays with you or exits to live independently. You as a carer can ask for advice and training seminars, that could support you to support the young person.

Ask a lot of questions at the meetings about Leaving care/Better Futures/Homestretch, housing, and TILA.

TILA is funding for the young person to help with purchase of domestic items. The other half of TILA around $1,500 is held with DHHS until they turn 21 in case it is needed in an emergency, bills etc.

My understanding is our young person is still eligible for TILA whether they continue to stay with OOHC family or leave care totally. Our young people will NOT be leaving our care unless they choose to whether we receive payment or not.

I am still frustrated with the lack of training and education on HomeStretch/Better Futures. We are still receiving carer payment from DHHS, without any supports or transition training through Better Futures until our young person finishes Year 12 this year.

I will continue to send emails to our new case manager at Better Futures regarding registering our young person for Homestretch at end of 2020 for 2021 when he is 19.

Our young person is not ready to leave the nest due to his disabilities, and he is still learning valuable life skills toward independent living in the future. He also has a life threatening auto immune disease, is not capable of administering his own medication, let alone making appointments with specialists, or understanding what this means for his future independence and overall health. I shudder to think how he would survive away from his stability and his brother and now his “family”.

We believe we run our family as a therapeutic home, so the boys have many opportunities to learn independent skills in every day life, hobbies and build confidence, with or without funding, with or without the services, we ensure the boys are emotionally growing daily, despite our own sacrifices. They are so worth the sacrifices to keep them together, at least for next 5 years until suitable supported accommodation becomes available for them to live together.

Thank you Debbie for all that you do and for sharing it with us.

 

If you have queries or wish to add your own experience with access to extended care support for your young person please contact the below email. If you have advice or experiences that you believe would benefit other carers, consider registering to be a Carer Voice next and contact: a.viola@fcav.org.au

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