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Age of care and support to increase

Hon Anne Tolley
Minister for Social Development
19 October 2016
Age of care and support to increase

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says that as part of the radical overhaul of care and protection, Cabinet has agreed that young people will no longer have to leave state care at 17, and will be able to remain in care or return to care up until the age of 21, with transition support and advice available up to 25.

“The government is addressing the long-term trauma and poor life outcomes for young people who have been in care, based on recommendations from an independent expert panel,” says Mrs Tolley.

“As part of these reforms, we intend to increase the age at which vulnerable young people are eligible for care and support, to provide the stability and security they need and deserve as they transition into independence.

“As the guardian of young people in care we can no longer turn our back on them when they turn 17. No responsible parent would do that. Given that many have suffered significant trauma, some of these young adults are not ready to lead independent lives.

“They deserve the financial, emotional and housing support which will allow them to thrive and go on to lead successful independent lives. Currently, for too many of these vulnerable young people, their life outcomes are dreadful.”

The independent expert panel which reviewed the CYF care and protection system found that by the age of 21, for children with a care placement who were born in the 12 months to June 1991:
• Almost 90 per cent are on a benefit
• Around 25 per cent are on a benefit with a child
• Almost 80 per cent do not have NCEA Level 2
• More than 30 per cent have a Youth Justice referral by age 18
• Almost 20 per cent have had a custodial sentence
• Almost 40 per cent have had a community sentence
“For the sake of these young people this cannot be allowed to continue,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Raising the age of care and support to 21 will provide the stability and security of a loving home as they take on the challenges and responsibilities of young adulthood, while also removing the barriers to completing their education and engaging in employment.”

As part of the new operating model for care and protection under the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, legislation will be introduced so that:

• Young people will be able to remain in, or return to care up to the age of 21, either with an existing or former caregiver or an alternative caregiver

• Financial assistance will be provided to the caregiver taking into account the young person’s individual circumstances, and could include a contribution from any income they have

• The caregiver will provide pastoral care for the young person to gradually become more independent

• The new Ministry will monitor the living arrangements against specific care standards

• Transition advice and assistance will be available up to the age of 25 for young people who have been in care, focusing on those with higher and more complex needs

The Minister will report back to Cabinet on the shape of financial assistance for caregiving, and on a likely phased-in approach for raising the age of care to 21 starting in 2018.

Legislation is going through Parliament at the moment raising the age of care and support to a young person’s 18th birthday, which will come into effect from April 2017 when the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki begins operating.

“I want to thank the caregivers who open up their lives and homes to our most vulnerable children. We will be trying to attract more of these very special people in the months and years ahead, and will ensure that they have the support and resources to continue to provide a stable and loving home as these young people develop into their late teens and twenties,” Mrs Tolley says.

“We must have a care system that puts the needs of children and young people first in everything it does. Raising the age of care and support is just one part of our radical overhaul, as we deliver a system that is truly child-centred and which provides safety, care, love and support all the way from childhood into adulthood.”

The relevant Cabinet papers can be viewed at: http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/investing-in-children/new-childrens-agency-established.html

ends

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