The Government has announced a new service for young people transitioning from the care or youth justice systems into independent living.
Announced as part of this year's Wellbeing Budget, the service is expected to support approximately 3000 young people over the next four years, and will commence on July 1.
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Currently, youth can be supported by the care system until age 18. This service extends that support up to the age of 25 by providing extra support staff, accommodation, accommodation supplements and education.
"It is time to recognise the special responsibility we have for the young people leaving the state's care," Children's Minister Tracey Martin said on Sunday. "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 current wellbeing statistics for young people aged 18-20 who entirely leave the care or youth justice system are damning. They are:
- between 20 and 80 times more likely to be involved in serious offending
- five to seven times more likely to be on a benefit
- three to seven times more likely to access mental health services
- 12 to 30 times more likely to access substance abuse services
- two to four times more likely to be hospitalised
- half as likely to achieve a tertiary qualification.
"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," Martin said.
The Budget allocates $153.7 million over four years to Oranga Tamariki to build the new service.
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.