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No help for grown-up foster kids

May 23rd, 2011 Australia

ALMOST 70 per cent of young people who leave foster and other forms of out-of-home care are unable to make a successful transition to independence, a survey by an advocacy group has found.

More than 35,000 Australian children and young people are cared for outside their home, including foster care, residential care and care by other relatives or family friends, says the Create Foundation.

“Through no fault of their own, children and young people may be placed in care due to neglect or abuse, and are more likely to be undereducated, homeless, become a parent at a younger age, or be involved in the juvenile justice system,” foundation spokesman and survey author Joseph McDowall said.

The survey found 68 per cent of children in out-of-home care had no family or friends to fall back on when they tried to make the transition to independence.

Of 605 young people who took part in the survey this year, only 190 (31.4 per cent) reported having a plan for leaving care.

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The remaining 415 were not receiving adequate guidance about safe accommodation, work or education options.

“The findings clearly indicate that as a modern, developed nation Australia has a long way to go in terms of leaving care planning,” Dr McDowall said.

It was entirely different in the UK and in the US, where dedicated care workers were assigned to help young people in care become independent, he said.