The Foster Care Association of Victoria congratulates the remarkable young people, carers and the sector colleagues we have worked alongside to campaign for extended care through the Home Stretch and Better Futures program for many years. We congratulate the Victorian Government and Luke Donnellan, Minister for Child Protection, on the announcement of universal provision of continued care until 21 years of age for all young people in foster, kinship and residential care, pledged in the state budget of 24 November 2020.
The announcement of this funding embeds respect for the needs and rights of our young adults in care. It also represents a shift in the place carers have in the lives of young adults well beyond their 18th birthday and that a stable home with continued support is a necessity, not a luxury.
The FCAV has long campaigned on this life changing measure and we thank our carers for telling their personal stories in the media, writing letters to MPs, signing petitions and demonstrating at Parliament House, outlining that 18 is too young and vulnerable an age to be sent into independent adulthood, especially for young people who have already faced so many extra challenges in their young lives.
What this has given young people and their carers, is the means to protect our young people falling to disconnection, dispossession, crime, unplanned parenthood, addiction, poverty, homelessness and the heightened risk of mental health issues. By extending care we also support and sustain carer households to continue to provide that care. By extending care we show as a community that we value carers’ input into the lives of these young people in those complex, life changing three years.
Up to now, carers have worn the costs and complexities of helping their young adults take on the range of life skills and requirements for independent life such as applying for tertiary education, navigating access to Austudy, navigating the NDIS, searching and applying for jobs, completing a first income tax return, securing a deposit and renting a place to live. Many of our 18 year olds are still at high school and getting their learner licenses. We are so thrilled foster carers will now be supported to continue the care of the teenagers/young adults in their lives, nurturing them through therapy, connecting them with education, social and legal supports right up to their 21st birthday. There is no doubt the life outcomes for young people now supported until 21 will be vastly different to those projected before today.
Read the Victorian Government press release here