News

Time to raise age of fostercare

Child Poverty Action Group is supporting a campaign to raise the age of state care from 17 to 21 and says it is unrealistic to expect a 17 year old to be completely independent.

We Don’t Stop Caring, an initiative developed by Lifewise, Dingwall Trust, Youthline, Child Poverty Action Group, Wesley Community Action, Christchurch Methodist Mission and Action Station, aims to raise the age of young people leaving state care from 17 to 21, giving every young person in NZ the right to support and a home-base.

Under the current law, children lose the protection of Child Youth and Family when they turn 17, but cannot access adult support like student allowances until they are 18. For children in fostercare, this means they can no longer remain with a foster family unless that family agrees to continue supporting them, and for children in CYF residences, they can no longer remain living in them. Most children turn 17 during year 12 at school. Exiting care while trying to complete years 12 and 13 at school is immensely difficult without a home, financial support or ongoing care to rely on.

CPAG spokesperson Associate Professor Michael O’Brien says, "It is unrealistic to expect seventeen year olds to exit the foster care system and become completely independent. Transitioning to life as an independent adult is difficult, and it only gets harder when a young person already has a disrupted life. Raising the age for support would give young people the right to support and a stable home through this important stage of their lives

O’Brien says, "The government is currently reviewing Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) including whether the age of fostercare should be reviewed. This is the ideal opportunity to fix a flawed policy and make a real difference for our most vulnerable youth."