What's the Answer?
What's the answer? reports the views of 37 actively engaged young advocates in relation to leaving statutory care
What’s the Answer is a key child protection report consisting of the views and opinions of 37 young people with a care experience. The 37 young people were, at the time of the consultation, were active advocates within out-of-home care representing the voices and concerns of other children and young people in care.
More young people need a leaving care plan
The report highlights that 65% of the young people reported that they did not have a formal plan for their future. This is consistent with the findings in the CREATE 2011 Report Card that found only 32% of the young people aged 15 to 17 who participated in the survey were aware that they had some form of leaving care plan.
The Queensland Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian reports that in 2011, 55% of young people aged 15 to 17 who participated in her survey reported having a plan - the vast majority of whom were somehow involved in its preparation. Of course, this means that 45% did not have a plan.
Young people need to own their plan – they need to participate in the planning process
The What’s the Answer report also found that many young people are not involved in their formal transition planning process. This is of major concern, particularly for those who are leaving their final care placement, because without a plan, without knowing where they are going to live and having a contingency plan should that plan fall through, a young person is at risk of homelessness.
A plan developed by people other than the young person is not a plan unless it reflects the realistic dreams, goals and desires of the young person.
Young people need and deserve effective transition plans
An effective plan is one that assists the young person to achieve what they need to achieve whilst still in care (eg schooling, training, developing social networks, life skills such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting), and then documents what they need to do to maximise their ability to remain safe and grow into adulthood. This might mean a plan documents how to enter tertiary education, obtain meaningful employment and obtain safe and secure housing, among other things.
One young person said:
Young people transitioning from care need as much support as possible; everything from finding somewhere to live to what to wear to interviews
Another young person said:
You don’t have to start formally planning before 15, but young people should be taught life skills – just like other young people. More life skills training has to happen with carers
Another young person said:
The basics need to start with foster carers, just like other young people learning skills at home. This would include opening a bank account, cooking, cleaning.
Some young people have goals and dreams but because many do not have family members that they can rely on, many may find enacting upon their plan difficult.
One young person reported:
I would like to do TAFE but I don’t have money or transport to get there.
The What’s the Answer report was funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs under the Community Investment Program.
If you would like to know more about children and young people in care, check out our frequently asked questions; or the statistics regarding children and young people in care; or one of our evidence based publications.