Kids in care are left be­hind

Re­port iden­ti­fies health and education fail­ures

Cockburn Gazette - - NEWS - Denise S. Cahill

YOUNG peo­ple from out-ofhome care fare worse than their peers when it comes to men­tal health and education, a newly-re­leased re­port has found.

The Telethon Kids In­sti­tute (TKI) re­port, re­leased this week, looked at young peo­ple from out-of-home care and was a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to the State Government’s de­ci­sion in March to back a Home Stretch trial sup­port­ing young peo­ple in State care to the age of 21. The cam­paign was backed by the Gazette and Com­mu­nity News.

Child Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Simone McGurk re­vealed on Satur­day the Home Stretch trial, led by Angli­care WA, would start on Septem­ber 9, sup­port­ing 15 care leavers in the Fremantle area. The Government an­nounced $440,000 in fund­ing for the trial dur­ing Home­less­ness Week ear­lier this month.

The au­thor of the re­port Ex­plor­ing out­comes for young peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced out-of-home care, re­searcher Dr Melissa O’Don­nell and her team spent eight months in 2017 fol­low­ing the progress of 2003 young peo­ple born be­tween 1990-95 who had spent time in care, such as fos­ter care, un­til they turned 23.

They were com­pared with a group of 9955 who had sim­i­lar so­cio-eco­nomic char­ac­ter­is­tics at birth but had not been in State care.

Dr O’Don­nell said the most alarm­ing re­sult was that 80 per cent of young peo­ple from State care had not com­pleted a high school cer­tifi­cate and just 4 per cent went on to univer­sity.

Angli­care WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Glas­son said the cur­rent sys­tem was not set­ting up young peo­ple to suc­cess­fully leave care net­works: “For many of them, their ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions are home­less­ness ser­vices, their health op­tions are the emer­gency de­part­ments. The WA Home Stretch trial will (of­fer) guar­an­tees around hous­ing, health and on­go­ing sup­port that ev­ery young per­son needs to tran­si­tion into independen­ce.”

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