Gabby Healy is the Supervisor of the Stability in Family Based Care (SFBC) program in the Department for Child Protection South Australia. Gabby has with over 28 years experience working as a social worker and project officer in child protection across a broad range of program areas, including direct service to children and their families; placement support to children and their carers; operational and strategic policy development; and service development.
South Australia’s Child Protection Department extends carer payments to 21 years of age (XPRESS Podium)
Once young people in care reach the age of 18, support for their carer generally ceases. It is a difficult task then, for carers to support the young person to “launch”.
Carers are often unable to afford caring for young adults and the outcome can then be homelessness or even incarceration as the young person turns to crime to survive. Some carers shoulder the costs which leaves them less able to assist other, younger children needing a foster home.
Extending support to young people transitioning from care after the age of 18 is consistent with the current trend of parenting that sees most young people staying at home well into their twenties.
International research has shown that countries which extend the care experiences have seen the homelessness rate for this group halved and have seen a doubling of engagement in the education system.
In 2019, the SA Government made extended payments available to support young people in family-based placements up to 21 years of age (in addition to existing extended payments where young people were enrolled in education).
Data will be collected to evaluate the saving across government in areas such as homelessness, public housing and imprisonment. Young people will be surveyed to report on their experience of the program, and the CREATE Foundation has committed to run a larger scale consultation with young people regarding the implementation of the policy.