26 May 2021

New report: What happens to young people when out-of-home care ends?

New report: What happens to young people when out-of-home care ends?

A new report released today has found little has changed for children in out-of-home care over the past decade.

CREATE Foundation interviewed more than 300 young people who had been in out-of-home care, aged 18 to 25, and found nearly half had to leave their carer’s household when care orders finished, according to ABC News.

The organisation, which represents young people in out-of-home care, said the cohort was increasingly coming into contact with the justice system.

They were also less likely to finish year 12, and at greater risk of homelessness.

CREATE’s executive director of research, Joseph McDowall, told The Drum just a third of the adults surveyed had a formal plan for what would happen after their out-of-home care ended at the age of 18.

But more than a third had not been told they were leaving, and only one in five had time to prepare.

One survey respondent said they did not know where they were going until they turned 18.

“I had to sit through three hours of interviews at three different agencies saying the same stuff and then ended in a refuge,” they told CREATE.

“I want to go to university in a few weeks, but now I’m homeless.”

Nearly half of CREATE’s respondents are now totally reliant on Centrelink payments for their income.

This has meant some have returned to live with their biological families. For others, it has resulted in homelessness.

Of the people the CREATE Foundation’s surveyed, 17 per cent were immediately homeless after leaving care. Up to 30 per cent had been homeless at some stage in their first year.

Respondents also reported being involved in the justice system after leaving care at 18.

This was more likely for young people from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.

While there have been promising changes in the past ten years, CREATE says it is not enough.

It is calling for increased housing stability and educational support for young people.

Although the Year 12 completion rate has improved in the past decade, at 57 per cent it’s still well below the 90 per cent recorded by the rest of the school cohort.

A campaign called The Home Stretch is also working to extend foster and kinship placements until the age of 21.

Victoria has already made the change, with movements across the country to follow suit.