The parliament recently debated my bill on out of home care. Here is a quick guide to what my bill is about.
‘Home Care’ refers to the statutory care of children and young people who are unable to live with their parents.
There are currently 11,000 young Victorian’s living in out of home care. Currently, all of these children must leave care by their 18th birthday. That is around 800 young people in Victoria each year. For most, this means that they cannot stay with their foster parents and instead, have to fend for themselves.
While 85 percent of 18 to 21 year old’s are still living at home with one or both parents, our foster kids, who are vulnerable and may already have experienced significant trauma in their young lives, have to go it alone.
However, for kids in home care, their home funding ends on their 18th birthday – imagine studying for your final exams and being kicked out of home?
It is no surprise that within the first twelve months of leaving care, 50 percent of our care leavers will be homeless, in jail, or unemployed.
Stopping care at 18 gives kids in care a really tough start to adulthood, when they should be worrying about to what to study, many are worrying about where to sleep.
In the USA, this change halved homelessness, doubled education participation, doubled the odds of employment, saw a 54% reduction in arrests, a 38% reduction in youth pregnancies and saved around $320 million dollars in the process.
In Leeds England, the year after they extended their leaving care age, only one young care leaver ended up in custody, as compared to 102 in the year before.
Deloitte Access Economics have estimated that continuing care in Australia to 18, 19 and 20 year olds would also halve homelessness, reduce hospitalisation by one third, reduce mental illness by over 40 percent, increase engagement in education, significantly decrease arrests and massively decrease alcohol and drug dependence for this cohort.
This simple legislative change will not only change lives, it will also save $1.84 for every $1 spent.
My Bill will mean that all kids in foster and kinship care, can elect to stay at home until they are 21 if they want to.