Supporting Young People Leaving Care

CREATE Foundation, an advocacy organisation for children who are in state care or have been in state care, recently released a report into the outcomes for young people leaving out-of-home-care or foster care in New South Wales.

In the first year after leaving care, CREATE has found that when children who have been in the care of the Minister turn 18, these young people are less likely than those in other states to have a Leaving Care Plan and up to one third may become homeless after leaving care.

Care leavers are more likely to be unemployed than others in this age group and are also more likely to spend time in prison. Barnardos have found that one in seven young people leaving care are either pregnant or already mothers.

Leaving Care Plans should be available to all of these vulnerable young people so that they can make a start on developing the life skills they will need to look after themselves in the adult world. This should include an introduction to training, further education or employment.

All young people who turn 18, have had a care order and been in the care of the Department of Family and Community Services or a non government care agency such as Barnardos or UnitingCare Burnside, should be offered substantial assistance to prepare for transition to adult life.

Ideally, preparation begins at age 15 when living skills such as cooking, budgeting and making job applications are practised with the help of case workers and carers. By the age of 17, carers and case workers need to be helping young people to prepare a “leaving care plan” which stays in place until age 25. Young people with a disability need to begin planning a little earlier and can seek assistance from Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) who can follow through with care plans.

Care Plans are an entitlement and young people have a legal right to have them so why is it that so few seem to be in place? I have asked the Minister for Family and Community Services and the Minister for Finance and Services to provide me with information on what percentage of children in the care of the Minister have leaving care plans. Both Ministers have refused to provide details on the number of children and young people in care with leaving care plans. I would have thought transparency in fulfilment of statutory rights was the order of the day for this new government.

Most care leavers are also entitled to a one-off payment called Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) but many young people do not seem to be aware of this. I congratulate the Department of Family and Community Services for their document entitled “Information for Young People leaving Care – Your Next Step”. It provides comprehensive information for this group of young people.

Planning for Leaving Care ideally should begin when kids in care are 14 or 15, and as recommended in the document just mentioned, they need to make sure they are aware of personal hygiene, know how to cook a simple meal, use a washing machine and dryer, can use an ATM and manage a simple budget. They also need to know how to get help in an emergency, be able to list some birth control options and explain the risks of drugs, alcohol and unsafe sex. This knowledge is of course important to all teenagers.

At around age 17 it is necessary for young people to begin to acquire further skills such as knowing how to budget for ongoing costs as well as unexpected emergencies that might arise; knowing how to arrange accommodation and how to sign a rental agreement. Having a tax file number, a resume and learning how to apply for a job and knowing how to enrol to vote are also important skills to acquire. All this information and suggestions are contained in the FACS document – Your Next Step – Information for Young People Leaving Care.

 However, this great information often does not seem to translate into action for this vulnerable group.  It would appear that many do not receive the information or assistance to access it and act on it. I understand that the work required for case workers to go through this process is detailed and time-consuming, and high case loads mean that the time is not always available to get all this information to the young people who would greatly benefit from it.

In developing a Leaving Care Plan, a 17-year-old would probably benefit from the help of an independent party in what is essentially a contract negotiation with a government department.

An example of this would be Barnardo’s leaving care services that aim to bridge the gap for children in care between leaving care and living in the adult world. Barnardos will help young people to develop the life skills they will need to look after themselves, including those listed in the FACS document mentioned as well as encouraging them to undertake employment, training or further education.

When they leave care, Barnardo’s helps the young people secure permanent accommodation and remains available to offer support and counselling if necessary. If this essential system is in place but actually not being delivered effectively to young people, then possibly enforcement mechanisms need to be in place.

FINANCE AND SERVICES—EQUAL REMUNERATION CASE

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra—

  1. In paragraph 10 of the Minister for Finance and Service’s submission to the Equal Remuneration Case Fair Work Australia, the Minister states the Government’s policy response to funding cost increases associated with the case would be cutting expenditure on existing government services. Will the Government fund pay equity from Stronger Together II, Keep Them Safe and Brighter Futures budgets?
  2. Are funding budgets for Stronger Together II, Keep Them Safe and Brighter Futures quarantined?

 

Answer—

On 16 May 2011, the Full Bench of Fair Work Australia handed down an interim decision on the first application for an equal remuneration order under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Fair Work Australia has invited further submissions from interested parties on this issue. Further hearings will be held before Fair Work Australia on 8, 9 and 10 August 2011. The Government is currently considering whether it will make a further submission. If so, it will be due 21 July 2011.

The Government will be in a better position to provide informed advice in relation to the issues made by Ms Barham following any final decision of the tribunal.

PREMIER—SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PACKAGE

Ms Barham to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Hunter, and Vice-President of the Executive Council representing the Premier, and Minister for Western Sydney—

  1. In regard to the priorities established in the Federal Government’s $230 million ‘Sustainable Australia – Sustainable Communities package’:
    1. Considering that population growth in non-metropolitan coastal areas has seen an increase from 4.9 million to 6.8 million people with an average rate of more than 146,000 people a year, is there sufficient focus on regional infrastructure development for New South Wales in this package?
    2. If not, what will the Government do?
  2. What role will the Government play in the Sustainable Regional Development Program which will support strategic assessments under national environmental law in up to seven additional regional and coastal growth areas?
  3. Which regional and coastal growth areas in New South Wales will be assessed under this program?

 

Answer—

The Government is taking an active role in developing a whole-of-government approach to regional infrastructure development. For example, Infrastructure NSW is being established as part of the Government’s 100 Day Action Plan to develop strategic infrastructure planning for NSW.

The Government is committed to engaging with the Commonwealth on funding and delivering optimal infrastructure outcomes for Regional NSW, including through the assessment and allocation of funds under the Federal Government’s “Sustainable Australia-Sustainable Communities’ package.

AGEING, DISABILITY SERVICES—COMPLAINTS TO AGEING, DISABILITY AND HOME CARE QoN

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services—

    1. Does Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) collect data on complaints about:
      1. ADHC operated services?
      2. ADHC funded services?
    2. If so:
      1. How do ADHC or non-government service providers collect this data?
      2. How often does ADHC collect this data?
  1. How many complaints about ADHC services has ADHC received for the years:
    1. 2007?
    2. 2008?
    3. 2009?
    4. 2010?
  2. What percentage of clients receiving ADHC provided services have made complaints for the following years:
    1. 2007?
    2. 2008?
    3. 2009?
    4. 2010?
    1. Does ADHC classify or analyse complaints received?
    2. If so, how does ADHC classify or categorise complaints?
  3. Of the complaints received for the following years what percentage required rectification of ADHC process, behaviour or actions:
    1. 2007?
    2. 2008?
    3. 2009?
    4. 2010?
  4. Of the complaints received for the following years what percentage involved an allegation of a breach of the NSW Disability Service Standards:
    1. 2007?
    2. 2008?
    3. 2009?
    4. 2010?
  5. What is the breakdown of complaints received for the following years by AHDC regions:
    1. 2007?
    2. 2008?
    3. 2009?
    4. 2010?
  6. What percentage of the total complaints for the following years were lodged with ADHC by an advocacy service funded by ADHC:
    1. 2007?
    2. 2008?
    3. 2009?
    4. 2010?
    1. Has ADHC conducted a review of the complaints and grievance handling policy and procedures for disability services?
    2. If so, please provide an update on this review and advise when a report on the review will be released.

 

Answer—

  1.  
    1.  
      1. Yes. 
      2. Yes
    2.  
      1. ADHC staff are required to record complaints using ADHC’s electronic Client Information System (CIS). ADHC funded non-government service providers have their own systems in place for recording and reporting complaints in order to comply with their service agreement.
      2. Information on complaints regarding ADHC operated services is reported in CIS immediately a complaint is made. ADHC collects data on complaints regarding funded non-government organisations as reported.
  2. Complaints about ADHC services are reported by financial year.
    1. 2006⁄07 – 2,449
    2. 2007⁄08 – 3,189
    3. 2008⁄09 – 2,362
    4. 2009⁄10 – 2,328 and 2010⁄11 – 756 (Year To Date – as at 30 March 2011)
  3. The following are complaint incidence rates for the relevant periods.
    1. 2006⁄07 – 3%
    2. 2007⁄08 – 3%
    3. 2008⁄09 – 2%
    4. 2009⁄10 – 2% – The 2010⁄11 figure can be provided at the end of the financial year.
  4.  
    1. Yes
    2. Complaints are classified according to service types and by issues.
  5. This data is not currently available. Data currently available indicates that this is not a significant feature of complaints. Over the period October 2010 to March 2011, only 4% of the complainants who notified a desired outcome from their complaint sought a change to policy⁄procedure. 70% of these have been finalised with the complainant’s desired outcome met or a compromise negotiated.
  6. Complaints data is not currently categorised to identify how it relates to breaches of the NSW Disability Standards.
  7. This information is reported by financial year.
      2006⁄07 2007⁄08 2008⁄09 2009⁄10 2010⁄11
    Central Office 261 674 351 271 78
               
    Regions
    Metro North 647 753 961 411 96
    Metro South 553 503 292 526 182
    Hunter 43 103 65 86 59
    Northern 132 168 53 99 73
    Southern 305 506 451 677 117
    Western 508 482 189 258 151
    Total NSW 2449 3189 2362 2328 756
  8. The system does not currently capture information at the degree of detail required to accurately identify complaints lodged by an ADHC funded advocacy service.
  9.  
    1. A review of the feedback and complaints handling policy and procedures is in progress.
    2. It is anticipated that the revised policy and procedures will be released in July 2011.

Housing NSW Availability of Occupational Therapist

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST AVAILABILITY
24 May 2011
Page: 16

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services. Will the Minister advise how many occupational therapists are available to assess home modifications for Housing New South Wales? How many are available in the Mount Druitt area? Is the Minister confident that Housing New South Wales residents have sufficient access to occupational therapists to enable reasonable requests for home modifications? Will the Minister advise how many occupational therapist plans for home modifications in Housing New South Wales properties have not been actioned or installed? Will the Minister advise of the average time between initial requests for occupational therapist assessment and actual home modification?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: As the honourable member’s question is detailed, I will take it on notice. I will get an appropriate answer from the responsible Minister or from any of the agencies that report to me.

Universal Access in Social Housing

SOCIAL HOUSING
27 May 2011
Page: 45

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. Will the Minister advise what percentage of social housing homes in New South Wales meet universal design principles? What percentage of social housing homes are being constructed or have been modified to meet the needs of people with a disability?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the honourable member for this important question. I will be interested to see the information when I receive it from the Minister in the other place. I will get an answer for the honourable member.

The Hon. Greg Pearce: On 27 May 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked me, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, a question without notice regarding social housing. The Minister for Family and Community Services has provided the following response:

  •  
      Housing NSW requires at least 50 per cent of all new dwellings on suitable sites to meet universal design principles. Suitable sites are those near public transport and shops, and are not too steep to provide wheelchair access from the street to the front entrance of dwellings on the site.

      To meet the needs of people with a disability approximately ten per cent of all new dwellings constructed on suitable sites have adaptable housing features and approximately two per cent of the existing dwellings have some level of disability modification.

Climate Change Risk Modelling in State Disaster Plans

STATE DISASTER PLAN
30 May 2011
Page: 17

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Emergency Services. Will the Minister indicate whether modelling and data from the first pass national assessment on climate change risk to Australia’s coast and associated vulnerability studies will be incorporated in the New South Wales State Disaster Plan and the relevant subplans? What procedures have been put in place to deal with multiple disaster events when agencies have overlapping and duplicate requirements under their separate subplans?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: That is an excellent question and the member should be congratulated for so ably representing her constituents on the far North Coast. Her question deserves a detailed answer, which I will provide as soon as I can.

Children and Young People in Kinship Care

KINSHIP CARE
31 May 2011
Page: 24

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women. Will the Minister advise the House how many children are in kinship care in New South Wales? What percentage of children in out-of-home care does this number represent?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Jan Barham for another detailed and very interesting question. I will refer it to the Minister for an answer. I look forward to reading the answer as much as the member does.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 31 May 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked me in my capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women a question without notice regarding kinship care. The Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women has provided the following response:

  •  
      1. As at 30 June 2010, there were 8,844 children and young people in out-of-home care placed in relative and kinship care.

      2. This represents 50.8 per cent of all children and young people in out-of-home care as at 30 June 2010.

Regulation of Early Childhood Education Childcare and Childcare Licensing Fees

CHILDCARE SERVICES
1 June 2011
Page: 29

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. Will the Minister confirm whether childcare services are still required to enter into service agreements with the Department of Family and Community Services, even though the Minister for Education is now responsible for parts 12 and 12A of the Children and Young People (Care and Protection) Act? Does the Minister for Family and Community Services agree with the Hon. Greg Pearce’s assessment of licensing fees for childcare centres on 4 December 2008 wherein he stated childcare licensing fees are “a prime example of the Government’s grab for tax and cash through its half-baked mini-budget … which will hurt employers and families”?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Jan Barham for her question. I am very impressed with the research that is going on. Importantly, this research is going into Hansard. It is research that has a base to it. Unlike the Opposition, which takes all of its research from the newspapers—

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Last week’s newspapers.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: That is right, last week’s newspapers. Then they take it out of context when they get it out of the newspapers. So they are not even satisfied with what is in the newspapers. However, it is a detailed question. Obviously, I will need to get a detailed answer from the Minister and come back to the honourable member.

Leaving Care Plans

LEAVING CARE PLANS
25 May 2011
Page: 23

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. Will the Minister advise what percentage of children and young people in the care of the Minister have leaving care plans? Do all leaving care plans make provision for care leavers to be assisted in applying for the Federal Government transition to independent living allowance?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Once again I thank the honourable member—are you honourable?

The Hon. Jan Barham: Yes.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I like the honourable Greens. Actually, I am really pleased to see that they have got over their little rebirthing period when they stopped wearing ties and there were two factions. This is an important and detailed question and I will refer it to the Minister and obtain an answer as soon as I can.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 25 May 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked me in my capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women a question without notice regarding leaving care plans. The Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women has provided the following response:

 • Your Next Step: Information for young people leaving care is to assist young people. This resource includes information about the Federal Government’s Transition to Independent Living Allowance.

• Carers of young people leaving care are given a resource Leading the Way: Preparing young people for leaving care A Guide for Carers. This resource includes tips to help the carer prepare the young person, as well as a guide on entitlements including the Transition to Independent Living Allowance.

. The O’Farrell Stoner government supports leaving care planning for children and young people. Currently, planning for some children and young people may be more involved than for others based on individuals’ circumstances and needs. More information about leaving care planning can be found at www.community.nsw.gov.au/

2. Leaving care planning for young people leaving care with a goal of independent living is undertaken in consultation with the young person, to meet their needs given their particular circumstances. This work usually commences when they turn 15 years of age to allow them to prepare for this important event. Where appropriate for the young person, assistance in applying for Transition to Independent Living Allowance would be included in the Leaving Care plan.

In late 2010 two resources with information on leaving care for young people and carers were developed and distributed:

Details about the resources were also sent to peak bodies and relevant agencies.

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