New Report Reveals Failings Of Qld's Intended Support For Kids Leaving Care

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20th May 2008, 04:38pm - Views: 724





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Media Release

EMBARGOED UNTIL Wednesday 21 May 2008

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NEW REPORT REVEALS FAILINGS OF QLD’S

INTENDED SUPPORT FOR KIDS LEAVING CARE 


When people leave the state care system without support they are effectively jettisoned and

are

more likely to enter the Juvenile Justice system.

A new report titled CREATE Report Card 2008:

Transitioning from Care is set to launch in Brisbane on May 21, 2008, and focuses on young people

leaving out of home care (i.e. foster care), the lack of support and resources provided, and reveals

Queensland has excellent policies but these lack effective implementation. The Report Card shows

the current cost to Government is estimated at $1billion¹ nationally per annum. Yet,

adequate

support would be ‘a stitch in time’ preventing a huge social and economic cost in the future. 


Today, when young people are developing from adolescence to adulthood life choices are more

complex than ever. Young people without family, or a home base,

may find transitioning an

intimidating prospect as they have no one to turn to. They are at higher risk of developing recognised

characteristics of

youth who have left care, such as being more likely to be undereducated,

unemployed, to earn less, become a parent at a younger age, be involved in the Juvenile Justice

system, become homeless, be dependent on social assistance, have mental health issues, attempt

suicide, and be at a higher risk of substance abuse²


Queensland has a prescriptive Child Safety Practice³

(CSP) manual, clearly outlining the support

and resources needed for all stages a person in care experiences, including practical forms and

documentation to assist caseworkers. These guidelines provide an excellent implementation tool for

DOCs caseworkers caring for young people under Guardianship, right through to creating the

Leaving Care Plan, which caseworkers are presently responsible for developing. The CSP manual

has clear guides such as “Create leaving care plan one month before turning 15 years of age” and

clearly shows Government’s intention to support young people leaving care. Yet, caseworkers being

burdened with many urgent and high priority cases around children in care leads to items such as

Leaving Care plans becoming a lower priority. Thus the Child Safety Practice

manual becomes

difficult to adhere to and implement. 


“It is widely reported that caseworkers are not provided with adequate resources and the CREATE

Report Card recommends that other community based supports are needed to back up the

Government effort,” states Dr Joseph McDowall, author of CREATE Report Card 2008: Transitioning

from Care, In Western Australia and Victoria mentoring programs

4

are being integrated into the

Government support network with the aim of providing ongoing continuity of support for young

people leaving care. Queensland does not have such a program, and the Report Card states that an

informal supportive, consistent relationship with an adult would support and reinforce the

caseworkers’ effort. Established people from the community could provide guidance and help

through a consistent relationship with a young person who is transitioning from care.”

 

CREATE is a national organisation committed to creating opportunities for young people in care. The

CREATE Report Card 2008: Transitioning from Care, authored by Dr Joseph McDowall, of

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Queensland’s Griffith University, focuses on young people who “age out” of care (when they reach

18 years), or those who, before reaching that milestone, are able to transition to independent living

arrangements. The Report Card provides a review of recent literature that locates the Australian

experience in an international context; a snapshot of the current position of state and territory

governments in relation to the support they provide, directly or indirectly, for care leavers and

performance of authorities will be compared against global standards; with the final part of the

document revealing the results of CREATE’s national survey of young people who recently left care

and those preparing to do so, conducted in 2007. 


“There is a lack of community awareness of the disparity of life outcomes for children and young

people in care and those of the general population,” states Jacqui Reed, Chief Executive Officer of

CREATE Foundation. “Young people transitioning from State care are vulnerable and the Report

Card updates the previously held beliefs, highlighting that Government is fiscally responsible for

putting money into transitioning young people out of care with support and resources.” 


At present there is inconsistency across the States regarding legislation in areas such as, for

example, the age when a person leaves care. Minimum leaving care standards must be established

nationally. In QLD the rights of children are part of legislation and yet when it comes to young people

leaving care there is a lack of clarity around the age to when a young person leaving care is entitled

to resources and support. This leads to young people not knowing when its “Okay” to ask for some

support or resources. The CREATE survey revealed suggestions from survey participants (shown in

the Report Card) as follows: to commence the transition phase earlier and ease the person into

independent living, provide support after turning eighteen, maintain constant communication to make

process clear for whole family, more support workers available, help with food and accommodation,

and enable development of a sense of belonging. 


Previous reports have shown embedded systemic problems such as a lack of planning, support and

resourcing in place to support young people transitioning from care. The Report Card concludes that

although important advances have been made by Government to support care leavers in Australia,

the implementation phase of the process is failing them. 


To ensure long term success of recommendations in the Create Report Card 2008: Transitioning

from Care Government support must be established and monitored.

Government resourcing for

delivery of support and services, and measurement of same, will achieve change in young people’s

experience when transitioning into independent living. 


"CREATE plan to work hand-in-hand with State Governments and proposes a series of forums in

each state across the country. At these forums our staff will meet with Government representatives

across areas including Transport, Housing, Health, and Education to ensure all parties are clear on

the issues, the report recommendations and the way forward to deliver positive change for young

people transitioning from care. The discussions at these forums will lead to development of the

actual implementation plans which CREATE will then follow up," advises Jacqui Reed, "The follow

up is driven by CREATE's second “Report Card on Transitioning from Care”, commencing mid 2009,

to monitor the implementation process and ensure systemic change is achieved."


The Report Card concludes that a back to basics, child protection perspective is needed, and the

Government providing additional resources will be a “spend a little now to save a lot in the future”

approach. The cost of doing nothing is detrimental to young people, society, and the economy at

large.


The CREATE Report Card 2008: Transitioning from Care was funded by the AMP Foundation. 



Media Enquiries: Leigh White 0431 932 122 or whitemco@bigpond.net.au

OR Jacqui Reed, Chief Executive Officer, CREATE Foundation. Ph: (07) 3255-3145 or 0402 998 066

List of References:

1

CREATE Report Card 2008: Transitioning from Care, Dr Joseph McDowall, page 13, Forbes, Inder and Raman (2006).

2

CREATE Report Card 2008: Transitioning from Care, Dr Joseph McDowall, page 6, Tweddle (2007).

3


4

CREATE Report Card 2008: Transitioning from Care, Dr Joseph McDowall, page 27, Table 6.






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