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November is Transition From Care Month

For three years running, November has been celebrated as “Transition From Care Month”.  It is the time of  year when we are all asked to stop and fully reflect on the needs of around 400 Queensland young people who leave care each year.  Very importantly, it is a time set aside for us to listen to these young people as they themselves tell us what they need to support them in their journeys to independence as young adults.

The key messages for “Transition From Care Month” in 2011 are:

  • Firstly, during this time of “growing up”, the relationships young people have with adults who are significant in their lives are of vital importance to them.
  • Secondly, in the midst of all the other work we do with children and young people, time and resources must be set aside to support young people in their transitions from care to independence.
  • Thirdly, young people need all the adults who are significant in their lives to work together in collaboration to provide them with the support they require.

Each year, “Transition From Care Month” is planned and coordinated by the talented and hard-working G-Force team, a small band of representatives from the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian, Department of Communities, Legal Aid, Youth Advocacy Centre, CREATE Foundation, Foster Care Queensland, Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak, PeakCare Queensland and, most importantly, young people themselves.  This is a team whose endeavours exemplify the meaning of the terms “collaboration”, “partnership” and “participation”.

This year, G-Force has surpassed itself by organising the following strategies for “Transition From Care Month”:

  • the development and distribution of a promotional kit containing “postcards” designed by young people to prompt thoughts about how other young people can be supported in their transition to independence, a letter from Phil Reeves, Minister for Child Safety, a “What’s The Answer?” DVD produced by the CREATE Foundation and green ribbons to wear as an insignia
  • regional forums to discuss and promote ideas about supporting young people’s transition to independence, and
  • a survey designed to explore both what works well and what needs to improve in supporting young people’s transitions.

If you have not yet completed the survey, please click here to take part.

The more responses that are received, the more we can rely on the data that is accumulated to inform improvements to our services.  So far, 33 responses have been received but we know you can do much, much better than that!

The range of views that have been received to date is mixed.  Some have highlighted positive initiatives that have been commenced, whilst others indicate that we have a long way to go.

An appropriate way of concluding this post is to feature some words of wisdom from a respondent to the survey.  This person commented that a barrier to a young person’s successful transition occurs when the support provided to them constitutes “a sudden ‘doing to’ rather than a graduated, planned and individualised response informed and contributed to by the young person concerned”.

That seems like a very good note to end on.  You may however wish to further explore the issues surrounding young people’s transition to independence by reading the following:

  • Click here to read information about “Transition From Care Month” contained within the web-site of the Department of Communities
  • Click here to read a Transition From Care Project Report produced by PeakCare Queensland
  • Click here to read report Cards about Transition From Care produced by the CREATE Foundation
  • Click here to read the summary report on the Views of Children and Young People in Foster Care Queensland 2010 produced by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian

Tim Johnston -  Principal Partnership and Planning Officer, Peak Care Queensland

and

Lindsay Wegener – Executive Director, PeakCare Queensland

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  1. Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director, PeakCare Queensland #

    Whilst all members of G-Force are to be congratulated for their very productive efforts in raising awareness about the needs of young people who are leaving care, it is apparent that much more needs to be done in addressing this important area of our delivery of services to children and young people. In particular, whilst the efforts being made by the State Government and the Department of Communities must also be acknowledged, the facts speak for themselves – Queensland is continuing to lag behind the progress being made within other States and Territories.

    As noted in the 2010 summary report of the “Views of Children and Young People in Foster Care” produced by the Commssion for Children and Young People and Child Guardian, Queensland should “achieve consistency in relation to the duration of entitlements – in line with the majority of Australian jurisdictions”. We know that other States and Territrories have been moving towards specifying within their legislation an age, ranging from 21 to 25, until which young people are entitled to receive support. Queensland should do the same.

    The fact that whether or not a young person is able to receive support in transitioning to independence is made subject to the discretion of a Child Safety Service Centre Manager is regarded as an inadequate response. It is also viewed as inadequate that the support that can be provided is generally limited to a period of 12 months only. A more active, non-discretionary comittment should be made to all young people leaving care and a distinct budget should be identified and allocated for this purpose.

    On 21st October 2011, all Federal, State and Territory Community and Disability Services Ministers agreed to work towards establishing a nationally consistent approach to young people leaving out-of-home care. They agreed that young people leaving care will have the support they require to access housing, education and financial assistance, find employment and receive help to develop and maintain their health and well-being and independent living skills. They agreed that this is to be regarded as a priority under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2009. Queensland must live up to this commitment.

    During the past week,I have been pleased to have had a number of opportunities to present information to the media about the issues of concern facing young people leaving care and transitioning to independence and, in doing so, I hope that I have represented the interests of the 400 or so Queensland young people who leave care each year, accurately and well.

    In my mind, it is a question of equity. How many young people these days do not have support provided to them by their families well into their twenties? Should not young people who have been in care be entitled to these same levels of support when the State has assumed the role of their guardian? In most instances, these young people have already experienced significant hardships and disruptions within their lives. Is there not a moral obligation to make sure they are not commencing their transition to adulthood significantly disadvantaged in comparison with their peers?

    You now have the opportunity to join PeakCare in advocating for these young people. You can do so by making sure that you respond to the Transition From Care survey and by addng your comments to this post.

    November 16, 2011
  2. Firstly CREATE would like to commend you Lindsay and the rest of the Peakcare team for the recent work you have done to raise public awareness about this very important issue. Talk to your average “person on the street” and it’s rare to find anyone aware of the unique challenges faced by those young people making the journey from the foster care system into independence. Numerous research highlights the tough reality faced by a significant number of young people transition from care in Queensland(http://www.create.org.au/create-report-cards).

    CREATE echoes your call for consideration to be given to extending the age of support for care leavers in Queensland past the age of 18. The current policy of support service cases provides limited and inconsistent support. Whilst extending support does require an increase in funding it makes fiscal sense in the medium/long term; In a report last year to the Federal Government, our organisation highlighted research conducted by Morgan Disney & Associates in 2006 estimating that careleavers cost governments within Australia an average of $40,000 per person per annum, with 55% being in the high-needs, high-cost categories. In short- poor outcomes experienced by care leavers end up costing governments and our community significantly in the long run; the irony is bitter sweet when you realise that these are young people who often have been engaged with government and non-government support services for long periods of time yet without the right support risk falling between cracks when they turn 18.

    Young people transitioning from care to adulthood want only the same as their peers that they are sharing this exciting time with; support, care and patience to help them reach their full potential as independent and happy members of our community.

    November 21, 2011
  3. Vanessa #

    I have just finished reading a really lovely book called ‘The Language of Flowers’ written by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. For those of you who have not read the story, the Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones (the main character), it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

    In partnership with a friend the author (and Foster Carer) has created the Camellia Network (in the language of flowers, camellia means my destiny is in your hands’) in order to create a nationwide movement to support youth making the transition from foster care to independence.

    The Camellia Network website (www.camellianetwork.org) includes the following:
    ‘Profiles: Camellia Network allows young people emancipating from foster care all over the country to create online profiles highlighting who they are, where they have been, what goals they have for the future, and what they need to be successful. Then citizen donors have the opportunity to purchase items from their registries that will directly impact a youth and fulfill an immediate material need that otherwise would not be filled. Citizens can donate five dollars or five thousand dollars–every dollar goes directly toward purchasing supplies and equipment that a youth needs to successfully transition into adulthood.

    Community Building: Through the website, donors can stay connected not only to the youth, but to the entire network of individuals supporting the youth–communities can support each other in the belief that together, we can change outcomes for kids in foster care. Beyond Material Support: Basic material needs can be the simple difference between being prepared for school (for example) or being unprepared, discouraged, and dropping out; we also know that material needs are just one part of the equation. The vision for Camellia Network is to use the power of social networks to create a community who will offer career and mentoring opportunities, sustained emotional support and encouragement to young people as they transition into adulthood.

    Power of Social Media: For the first time in history, technology enables us to make meaningful connections in ways we never imagined possible. We have the ability to bring together those who need support and those who have it to give without the logistical, geographic and socio-economic boundaries that existed before.’.

    Looking through the site, I found it interesting to explore what the Camellia Network is doing to respond to the needs of young people transitioning to independent. I am left wondering what we if this style of initiative is possible in the Qld context? What do you think?

    January 25, 2012
    • Thank you for that Vanessa, what an amazing and inspirational story – made my day ! I think its definately something we should consider in Queensland.

      January 25, 2012

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  1. Echo Springs Transition Study Center | Rescue Youth

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