For the first time, young New Zealanders leaving the care system will be supported as they move to adulthood and independence. TTF is very please to see this new funding to support some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children and young people. We congratulate Voyce Whakarongo Mai for its work in this area working with and advocating for young people in care.
The Wellbeing Budget contains funding to build a new nation-wide Transition Support Service which is expected to help around 3,000 young people over the next four years after it starts on July
“It is time to recognise the special responsibility we have for the young people leaving the state’s care,” says Children’s Minister Tracey Martin. “For too long they have been left to fend for themselves with little support, in a way we would never accept for our own children when they leave home.
“For these young people, the transition to adulthood often comes early, abruptly, and with little in the way of a safety net. It has been a huge hole in our system of care that young people didn’t have this support. It’s time to fix that.”
The Wellbeing Budget is investing $153.7 million over four years for Oranga Tamariki to build the transition service for young people leaving the care and youth justice system. The service was originally proposed by the Modernising Child, Youth and Family Expert Panel in 2015.
The Minister said that making the investment now reduced the risk of personal cost to the young people and would help break the cycle of families needing state care. Nearly 30% of children in care have parents who had also been in care.
The new services include:
• 175 new specialist transition support staff by year four providing day-to-day support to individual young people as they transition out of care
• 60 supported accommodation places by year four for young people who need a stepping stone to make a successful transition to independent living
• $25 million over four years to support arrangements for young people to continue to live with their caregiver beyond the age of 18
• $9 million over four years to provide advice and assistance to individual young people transitioning from care to independence, up to the age of 25.
“Teenagers leaving care should have the right to expect what any young person would want – knowing there is someone to turn to if they need help; a warm bed to sleep in; some help and encouragement when it is needed. This service will provide that, both by allowing young people to stay longer with their caregivers and providing specialised transitions support workers whose job is to help this group.
“Sadly, we also know what happens without this kind of support. Those young people who have left the state’s care and protection have in the past ended up with worse outcomes in nearly every key area including health, housing and incomes.”
The Minister said that young people were engaged with in the design of the transition service, which would largely be provided by NGOs, iwi and Māori organisations.
“This was a deliberate decision. The service is voluntary and we want young people to engage with it. Oranga Tamariki hasn’t generally worked with 18-25 year olds, but its community partners already have a youth focus and capability to work with this group.”