Kids in care need help during crisis

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THE state government has announced a $77.5 million package to provide support to children in foster or kinship care.

Carrum Downs woman Tay, now 21-years-old, lived in kinship care. She said that children in care who turn 18 during the COVID-19 pandemic may find themselves in a difficult situation, and need the extra support.

“I found it hard to get the support I needed,” she said about her own experiences of growing up in kinship care. “Mum had passed away already and Nan was doing her best to bring me up, but there was a lot of struggle. I did finish year 12 and I’m glad to have had Nan in my life, as she made me a strong person and who I am today.”

“At 18 most people are still at school and it would be really hard to move out, impossible [while] trying to finish school or even working and trying to support yourself,” she said. “Young people have really limited options when leaving care and it would be really hard and they are going to struggle. 

“It is hard enough to find a place to live, let alone during a pandemic. We are currently looking for a home and it is very hard. You have to be shortlisted and then if you get it, only then are you allowed to go and see it.”

The state government has allocated an extra $4 million in funding to their Home Stretch program, which gives kinship and foster carers the option of keeping young adults in their care up to the age of 21 years, supported by an allowance. 

As part of the state government support package, foster and kinship carers will also receive a one-off $600 payment for every child they care for.

Child protection minister Luke Donnellan said “every day, our foster families and kinship carers provide the most amazing support to our children and young people. Now, it’s our turn to support them.”

The CREATE Foundation is a body representing children and young people in out-of-home care. CEO Jacqui Reed has called for a six month extension for the transition process for children in care turning 18 during the coronavirus pandemic.

 “Through our independent consultations with young people we know that over 35 per cent experience homelessness within the first year of transitioning from care, and in this current climate the complexity of the situation leads to additional challenges around accessing housing and basic supports,” Ms Reed said.

First published in the Frankston Times – 4 May 2020

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