In the November 2020 state budget the Victorian Government announced what has been described as the single most significant reform to child welfare in a generation, the extension of care to 21 years for all young people in out-of-home care on an ongoing basis. From 1 January 2021 every young person in care in Victoria will have access to an accommodation allowance until they are 21, whether they are in foster or kinship care, or residential care. Previously, support ended when a young person turned 18, regardless of their stage of development or readiness for independent living.
The announcement is the result of the persistent and powerful campaign by The Home Stretch which, supported by the Sidney Myer Fund Trustees and the Poverty & Disadvantage Program, and a coalition of philanthropic supporters advocated tirelessly over a number of years for the extension of care. The campaign skilfully amplified the voices of young people and coupled these with data on the impact in every aspect of life of forcing young people out of care at 18 years, regardless of their capacity to survive.
Victoria is now the leader in this area, and The Home Stretch is urging other states and territories to follow.
The benefits of extending care in other countries are to be seen in reduced homelessness among care leavers, decreased engagement with the justice system and increased rates of engagement in higher education.
Click here to read the Victorian Government’s media release.