NSW extends foster care support age from 18 to 21 in a landmark win for care leavers and supporters

Adopt Change welcomes the historic announcement by Premier Dominic Perrottet and the NSW Government to increase supports for young people in care until the age of 21 as a major step to assist young people in having increased stability and accessing a more positive future. My Forever Family NSW (a program operated by Adopt Change), acknowledges the welcomed additional support this will also provide to foster and kinship carers across NSW to enable them to better support the children and young people in their care.

Adopt Change welcomes the NSW Government’s commitment to supporting children and young people in out-of-home care during a critical stage of life. Premier Dominic Perrottet’s announcement of an investment of $100 million over five years to better support vulnerable young people reaching adulthood via the Your Choice Your Future package in NSW will create necessary change for young people in care.

The historic change and financial commitment is critical as each year approximately 3,100 young people throughout Australia leave or ‘age out’ of the care system. While some young people remain with their carers, many do not. As a result, they become some of the most vulnerable people living within our community. It has been reported that:
-35% of the young people leaving care were homeless in the first year,
-29% were unemployed,
-35.3% leave without having completed high school

There is an expectation that young people in care who have often experienced abuse or neglect in childhood, will be able to navigate adulthood just because they’ve turned 18. This landmark change to the system in NSW will help in reducing these staggering negative outcomes and allow for young people to continue receiving support whilst seeking employment and further study, and developing essential life skills to assist them in the transition to adulthood.

Renée Carter, CEO of Adopt Change and the My Forever Family NSW program spoke about the development.

“Children in care deserve ongoing stability and support to give them the best chance of recovering from their difficult starts to life and setting themselves up for a positive future. Increasing the age and funding available until 21 is a critical step that will go a long way in facilitiating this. Young people with experience of aging out of care have been vocal about the importance of this step. Their voices have been heard and this is an encouraging move towards significant positive change in our community for children, young people and carers. This investment from the NSW Government not only provides the financial support to these young people so they can either continue living with their carers or independently, it also shows children and young people currently in care in NSW that there is a commitment to them thriving now and in their future.”

Adopt Change Ambassador and Care Leaver Mentor Emily Hikaiti, says, “Turning 18 has just become that much more exciting for young people in out-of-home-care in NSW!

The Perrottet Government has adopted significant child welfare reform that shows children across the state that they will not be left behind when they turn 18 and are preparing for their independence. A truly exciting moment and I look forward to seeing the pleasing results this ensures for our young people.”

Adopt Change has consistently advocated for increased stability and support for children and young people in the care system, with a focus on them growing up in home based care. With 15,895 children living in out-of-home care in NSW, there will be a significant number who have extended stability and better outcomes, along with the additional support it provides to carers.

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