The Home Stretch Campaign reaches NSW
Last week a campaign was launched in NSW promoting the extension of the leaving care age from 18 to 21. It is called Home Stretch, mirroring the efforts in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria.
The campaign launched alongside a Deloitte report, Extending care to 21 years in New South Wales. The report details the social and economic benefits of supporting young people in care until 21.
These are the primary messages from the report:
- A lack of appropriate supports in the crucial post-care years is leading young people leaving care to experience high rates of homelessness, financial hardship and contact with the justice system
- The poor outcomes experienced by young people leaving care have costs, not only for the individual in terms of lost life opportunities, but also for government and society in terms of ongoing use of government programs, poor employment outcomes, and increased rates of crime
- If young people leaving care are to thrive as active citizens in our community, they need more supports than the average teenager, not less.
- The NSW Home Stretch Campaign Committee is arguing that all young people leaving care must be provided access to extended care arrangements until they are 21 years old.
These reforms are comprised of three key strategies:
- Young people leaving care, in consultation with foster parents, are provided the option to voluntarily extend foster care supports until age 21.
- A personal case worker/mentor to help link them with education, training and job opportunities and to support their health and well-being.
- Safe, secure and supported independent living for young people leaving care, especially those exiting residential care, who cannot or choose not to take the voluntary extension of foster care supports.
This is an exciting initiative to be a part of and Samaritans contributed to the commissioning of this report.
Follow the campaign and take action at http://thehomestretch.org.au/.