Panel mulls raising age kids leave CYF

  • 25/09/2015
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (Simon Wong)
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (Simon Wong)

By Sarah Robson

Raising the age children leave state care is one of the changes being seriously considered by the expert panel charged with overhauling Child, Youth and Family.

The panel's interim report on the performance of the state's child protection agency confirmed that it's failing to provide vulnerable children with the support they need.

Among the concerns it raised, it pointed to the need to support young people as they transition to adulthood.

"Young people in need of care and protection should not have their assistance lapse at age 17," the panel said in its report.

"Many young people leaving care report a sense of abandonment, anxiety and fear, and experience high levels of instability and insecurity across many aspects of their lives.

"This includes unsafe, unstable and poor quality housing and homelessness and difficulty remaining in education."

In most countries similar to New Zealand, the age children formally leave state care is 18.

However, the report says some countries are looking at introducing provisions to allow young people to stay in care until they turn 21.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley is also keen to see the age lifted.

But she said questions remain about what it should be lifted to and what the support for those young people would look like.

"Different young people require different support and help, so I'm hoping the model (the panel will) come back with is one that gives us some flexibility," Ms Tolley told reporters.

The expert panel's next task is to come up with a detailed business case, including costings, for a new CYF operating model by December.