Much like leaving home, leaving care can be a challenging or overwhelming time. Many young people in care don’t get much control over when it happens, as foster care support in Queensland stops when a young person is 18, although in some cases it may be extended until 19. This is a critical time for many care leavers, and it’s important to know where they can turn to for support if they need it.
When a young person turns 15, their Child Safety Officer will start the conversation around their plans for leaving care. This will include discussing goals and how the young person plans to go about working towards them. Together, they’ll make a Transition Plan and the young person will start their first steps towards independence. The Transition Plan might include things like finding housing and employment, managing finances, going to TAFE or university, getting a driver’s licence, accessing counselling and financial assistance, developing life skills and keeping up connection with family.
Each young person will then be able to use the Plan as a road map for their future, so they are prepared for the changes ahead. It will be personalised so that they feel confident working towards their goals and dreams, and they know how to get help when they need it. The Transition Plan will also include Transition funding through Child Safety to support identified needs and goals for the young person. If a young person in out of home care does not have a Transition Plan, carers may need to advocate for this.
The Transition to Independent Living Allowance is a one-off payment of up to $1,500 from the Federal Government to cover basic costs when a young person leaves out-of-home care. A young person might use this for items like a fridge or couch, education or training courses, counselling expenses, or other eligible costs. Find out more about eligibility here.
Next Step Plus is a service for young people aged 15–25 who have had a care experience since their 12th birthday. For young people aged 15–18 they can assist with transition support, and for young people aged 18–25 they can offer support with things like managing money, finding somewhere to live, getting a job and legal advice.
Young people can also continue to get support from Child Safety after they turn 18 through a Support Service Case. This will usually last for about 12 months, and their Child Safety Officer will work with them on their goals and the supports they need to achieve them.
Youth Housing and Reintegration Services helps young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless with support, financial assistance, and access to accommodation options. Child Safety can refer young people to this service, or young people can contact their nearest service centre.
Young people leaving care are at greater risk of experiencing mental health challenges. Young people can access mental health support from Beyond Blue, who offer online or phone support. A GP can also help, with a mental health care plan and support accessing mental health services.
The Create Foundation is the national body representing children and young people with an out-of-home care experience. Young people who aren’t already a member may be interested in joining and connecting with others who share their experience. They also offer Create Your Future grants yearly that can assist with things like IT expenses or driving lessons. Find out what grants you can apply for here.
The Create Foundation’s Create Your Future website is an amazing resource for young people looking for help, guidance or information. The website is easy to navigate with extensive information on living skills, education, employment, housing, health and more.
The Create Foundation also has a fantastic podcast, Voices in Action, which is a platform for young people to talk about their experiences in care.
The Sortli app (short for “sort your life out”) is a free mobile app designed to help young people find the information and services they need when they leave care.
In regional areas, young people may be eligible for BUSY at Work Commonwealth Scholarships, which provide funding for eligible qualifications up to a diploma level.
There may also be local services that can support young people in your area, like BABI, which offers a Get Set For Work program for young people in the Wynnum area. Ask your local You Be You team for other resources in your area.
Although there are resources to support young people in care to transition to independence, Anglicare Southern Queensland and You Be You believe it’s important for young people to have the best possible start in life. We support The Home Stretch campaign to give young people the choice to stay in care until they turn 21. Find out why here.