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The Transition from State/NGO Care to Adulthood: International Best Practice SSPA Seminar Series 2013 Dr Nicola Atwool, Senior Lecturer, University of.

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Presentation on theme: "The Transition from State/NGO Care to Adulthood: International Best Practice SSPA Seminar Series 2013 Dr Nicola Atwool, Senior Lecturer, University of."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Transition from State/NGO Care to Adulthood: International Best Practice SSPA Seminar Series 2013 Dr Nicola Atwool, Senior Lecturer, University of Otago

2 Overview Outcomes for care leavers New Zealand research on care leavers What makes a difference? Where are we in New Zealand? Current challenges What’s happening in your area? The way forward

3 Outcomes for care leavers Across the English-speaking world there is evidence of poor outcomes for care leavers in all domains of their lives: Accommodation Educational attainment Employment and Income Social support and family relationships Physical and mental health Alcohol and substance abuse Offending Victimisation Early entry to parenthood

4 New Zealand research Internationally attention has been focused on the needs of care leavers since the 1980s First New Zealand research was published in 2000 There have been no prospective longitudinal studies of care leavers in New Zealand Trish Ward’s analysis of the case files of 35 16 year olds as at 1 April 1997 demonstrated that, like their counterparts in other countries, they were a highly vulnerable group ill-prepared for independent living 63% of case files made no reference to pending independence 29% of Orders were discharged early Deborah Yates’ in-depth exploration of the experience of 8 care leavers reinforced these findings and the picture that emerged was very similar to that provided by international research.

5 Impetus for change In his December 2000 Ministerial review of Child, Youth and Family Mick Brown recommended that consideration be given to 16 year-olds in care with insufficient support being placed in the guardianship of the Chief Executive and supported constructively through their transition to adulthood at least to the age of 20 Cousins (2000) reviewed best practice models for young people leaving care and recommended two models developed in the UK and Australia as appropriate for NZ Cousins also highlighted the lack of specific legislative provision for services for care leavers

6 More recent research Fitzgerald, Mortlock & Jeffs (2006) reported on interviews with 7 care leavers in Christchurch: All described having little support at the time they left care Recommended changes that could be implemented including: life skills, mentors, support to continue education and ongoing care to age 25 if needed. Pania Coote (2007) interviewed 5 care leavers in Southland. Findings were very similar to those of Ward and Yates. Focused on loss of connection with family and recommendations included revisiting Puao-te-ata-tu, more emphasis on family connection and transition planning. Leoni (2007) interviewed 8 care leavers and 10 professionals and community members. Her findings indicate similar levels of difficulty and 2 participants had become isolated from whānau during their time in care and remained so.

7 Other evidence The Welfare Working Group reported in 2010 that those most at risk of long-term welfare dependence (around 2,400) enter the system through Independent Youth Benefit, Emergency Maintenance Allowance or Domestic Purposes benefit before the age of 18. 60% of that group were reported to have had previous contact with, or were in the care of, CYF MSD (2011) reports that most people at high risk of life-course persistent offending were known to CYF before entering the corrections system. People with CYF records account for 80% of those imprisoned by age 20.

8 Other evidence ECPAT Child Alert (2010) interviewed 13 young people engaged in under-age prostitution Six identified having been in the care of Child, Youth and Family Of these many were homeless and living on the streets at the time they began Two had been involved with prostitution from the age of 12, three at 14, and one at 16

9 Questions, comments, issues An opportunity for questions, comments or issues before we move on to looking at what makes a difference

10 What makes a difference? Legislative and Policy frameworks supporting the transition from care Living Skills programmes prior to leaving care have value but are not enough Specialist teams and the provision of Personal Advisers Continuing care Financial support to enable young people to remain with foster carers after 18 and until 21 Safe, secure accommodation A range of options allowing for a graduated transition including supervised group living, live-in carer, supported independent accommodation, lead tenant, and foyer housing

11 What makes a difference? Employment and Education assistance Works best as part of holistic programme Secure accommodation is essential to enable participation Permanent connection to committed adults Permanency for teenagers Youth connections projects Specialist Services More likely to work with more disadvantaged young people Improve accommodation outcomes and assist with life skills Limited impact on other outcomes Highest rates of success achieved with comprehensive support including case management, accommodation support, living skills, links to education and training, support to rebuild connections with family, and practical and material support

12 Critical Factors Extending care beyond the age of 18 Care leaving is regarded as a process not an event 3 distinct phases: leaving; transition; integration into new position Establishing and consolidating personal identity is a key aspect of the developmental transition to adulthood Particularly challenging for care leavers if they do not have a coherent narrative of their lives or have unresolved trauma Must have access to information Independence vs inter-dependence We are social beings and positive connections are a key factor in resilience

13 Critical Factors Care leavers are not all the same! 3 groups have been identified: Moving on Survivors Victims Important to start with an assumption that all care leavers need support and tailor this to the particular challenges each group/individual faces

14 Best Practice Care leaving process Programmes need to reflect 3 stages of transition: preparation for independent living; managing the transition; post-care mentoring and support Focus on interdependence Networks of support with meaningful connections with supportive adults and peers Inclusion of birth family and caregivers in transition planning Provision of a coordinated range of services Living skills Secure and safe accommodation Access to education, training or employment Financial support Access to general health services and any specialist services that may be required A designated coordinator for each care leaver Legislative and policy framework

15 New Zealand situation In December 2009 there were 1,437 young people aged 14–16 in the custody of CYF and 89 aged 17 or over By 30 June 2012 there were 834 14–16 year olds in the custody of CYF and 24 aged 107 or over Young people exit care at 17, younger than any other English- speaking country CYF has a transition policy in line with best practice but there is no legislation to back this up and indications are that application is inconsistent and the most challenging young people are likely to have an abrupt transition. OCC report on Children in Care noted that: Caregivers, social workers and lawyers highlighted this as an area of concern Many of the 47 young people interviewed expressed anxiety about what would happen when they reached their 17th birthday The only young people who made any reference to transition support knew about Dingwall’s Launch programme

16 Some good news In 2001 the Nelson office of CYF developed an Independent Youth Programme to reduce the risk factors for young people leaving care Based in a Family Home the programme ran over 12 weeks for up to 3 hours a week with social workers actively involved Able to transfer knowledge and skill; strong peer relationships developed; educative for participants and their social workers They concluded that visionary, proactive interventions could only succeed as a pilot within the statutory service and a creative approach working collaboratively with the community was recommended Recommended that CYF adopt a transitional programme as part of the discharge process and that specialised teams of social workers be trained for this role

17 More good news Transition services were introduced in Auckland in 2004 at Dingwall Trust (Launch to Independence) and Youth Horizons (Ka Awatea) 2010 evaluation of the Launch programme run by Dingwall Trust found that participants valued the support received Overall had good outcomes in relation to accommodation, education, income, life skills, health, transport, and social networks and relationships Relationship with personal adviser critical component Consistent with international literature the evaluation highlights the vulnerability of care leavers and the resilience building potential of transition programmes

18 Current challenges Accommodation has been identified as a key area of difficulty Limited provision of youth-friendly housing options High youth unemployment Creation of a new category of young people: NEET (not in education, employment, or training) 16–18 year old young parents 16–18 year old partners of a person with a child 16–17 year old partners without a child 16–17 year olds not supported by family Two benefits: Youth Payment and Young Parent Payment Administered by Youth Service Providers designated by MSD MSD role is centralised Different providers in different areas

19 Youth Payment Must be engaged with Youth Service Provider Must be in education or training Must complete a budgeting course and meet regularly with provider to discuss budget 1 st and 2 nd time fail to meet obligations payment will be suspended and any additional payments stopped Will have four weeks to address 3 rd time benefit will be stopped immediately Payment is accessed by way of debit card which can only be used at designated shops Cannot be used to purchase cigarettes or alcohol

20 Young Parent Payment Engage with Youth Service Provider Attend budgeting course and meet to discuss Actively involved in education, training or work-based learning from time child is one year old or 6 months if in a Teen Parent Unit Attend parenting course Child must be enrolled with PHO and Well Child and completing checks Child must be in ECE or suitable childcare when attending education or training Supported by Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment paid direct to provider Same sanctions apply as for Youth Benefit

21 Implications for Care Leavers Complex system to negotiate Not everybody is aware of the changes further limiting the support available to young people Obligation on young people to fulfil criteria Resources to support compliance are not necessarily available Budgeting services Parenting programmes appropriate for teen parents Early childhood education services Education facilities for teen parents (Teen Parent Units) Some PHOs are at capacity and not accepting new enrolments No safety net for those who do not comply

22 MSD Funding for NGOs Currently fund more than 2,300 social services to deliver around 4,600 contracts supporting individuals, children and families each year Message from the Minister in June 2012: “It’s vital these Government-funded services make a tangible difference to those who need it most. Services including intensive home visiting for vulnerable children, parenting support, community social work, youth programmes and employment support have the potential to change lives, but every dollar has to make a difference.” Strong emphasis on ensuring best results for children and families Signalled change within government and in relationship with providers

23 Steps to Implementation Government Determine purchasing priorities – types of services to be funded and where MSD Streamline relationship and funding management Further develop contracting mechanisms Hold providers and MSD accountable for agreed results Invest in the capability of providers who have the potential to deliver effectively MSD Providers assess their organisational capability and delivery using a framework developed in partnership with MSD

24 Changes Better use of multi-year and multi-agency contracts and better consistency across MSD’s service lines Incentivising providers to achieve the results our communities need Funding targeted to what we know is working and the organisations that can demonstrate success Providers working together for better outcomes Supporting providers to develop and adapt to changing expectations Solid and measurable outcomes achieved with current funding levels Better ways of measuring that results are being achieved

25 Implications for NGOs Changes to be achieved within current funding Redistribution rather than investment Climate of uncertainty Limited opportunity for expansion or development of new services Greater expectation that service delivery will be coordinated across agencies Where does this leave young people transitioning from care?

26 What is happening in your area? Around the room you will find sheets of paper with three different questions: What resources/supports are available in your community for young people transitioning from care? What are the gaps in service provision for young people leaving care? How could transition be better supported for each of the three groups identified: moving on; survivors; victims? Please respond to these questions Responses will be collated and feedback from the five seminars will be provided to SSPA

27 Where to from here? White Paper Children in care are identified as vulnerable New multi-agency strategy for children and young people in care Stronger transitions from State care returning to a parent, to a Home for Life or to independent living as a young adult How can this be ensured?

28 The way forward Internationally progress has only been made when specific legislative provision has been made for care leaving services Effective transition planning involves a multi-agency approach and collaborative partnerships to ensure access to: accommodation; education, vocational training and employment; income support; mentoring; and social networks. Research highlights that transition is a 3 stage process involving in-care preparation, exit support, and after care services. Care leavers’ needs vary and support must be individually tailored Models of best practice exist Current projects demonstrate what is achievable and where improvements can be made

29 Recommendations The OCC report on children in care found that while current CYF policy was consistent with best practice there was evidence of non-compliance leading to variable outcomes. It was recommended that the Minister for Social Development and Employment: (a) introduce legislation to raise the care leaving age to 18; and (b) give consideration to the enactment of the CYPF Act Amendment Bill no.6, which makes provision for transition planning for all young people approaching independence.

30 Recommendations In the meantime CYF should ensure that all young people leaving care have individually tailored support packages Identification of a support person Safe, secure accommodation Supported engagement with education, training or employment Financial support School and medical records A birth certificate Information about their birth family, the reason they came into care and their journey through care For Māori care leavers this should include information about their whānau, hapū and iwi connections Information about Youth Support services

31 Recommendations Transition Services in all larger centres and coordinated support services in smaller centres Early referral – no later than 15 years of age and earlier for young people experiencing placement instability Provision of a personal advisor or mentor Comprehensive assessment of need and referral to appropriate services addressing unresolved issues in relation to mental health, substance abuse, physical health and offending Accommodation Services Shelter accommodation Foyer housing Live-in carer housing Nation-wide provision of One Stop Shops

32 Conclusion We do not expect our own children to leave home at 17 and become fully independent. All young people leaving care need on-going support Many will require comprehensive and coordinated support packages that continue for three years or more It is extremely unlikely that such a service will be established and funded by government The majority of care leavers are likely to be more receptive to community-based support rather than continued involvement with a government-funded service These are our young people and we have a collective responsibility to ensure that they have the opportunity to achieve positive outcomes

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