September 07, 2015
Push to extend age of care
Organisations dealing with the hard up and homeless are petitioning the government to raise the age of state care.
Currently young people in youth residential centres or paid foster care have support cut off when they turn 17, and many end up on the streets.
Moira Lawler from Methodist social development agency Lifewise says the organisation is seeing increasing numbers of young people at its Karangahape Rd cafe, which is designed to service rough sleepers and people at risk of homelessness.
As many as four in five of the rangatahi have spent time in foster care or youth residential centres.
She says young people are cut loose from the system before they are even legally allowed to sign a tenancy agreement, and many don’t have the life skills to cope.
"Not many young people at 17 are completely clear about what they want to do where they want to go. It's hard enough for young people when they are 18 or 19. It's hard enough let's face it for people in their 20's to be clear about what is it they want to do with their lives. It's a massive ask to expect a 17 year old to make those decisions independently and just get on with it," she says.
Moira Lawler says the panel looking at modernising Child Youth and Family is capable of making a recommendation to cabinet to increase the age at which people who have been in care can access support.
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