Transitioning from care to adulthood is a very important time in the child’s life. At this time, they are already experiencing significant change and may be confused by the physical, social and emotional changes adolescence brings. This may also be a tricky time, as they may not yet know who they are and are often trying to work out their place in the world.
When a child in care turns 18 years old, their Care and Protection Order stops and they ‘transition’ from being in care. At this time, the child’s care ‘placement’ technically ends. It is understood such conversations about transitioning can be confronting and cause worry for all involved. Everyone’s situation is different and transitioning does not necessarily mean your relationship with the child ends or their living arrangements change.
Effort is placed on working together and specific planning will be undertaken involving the child, you, your case manager and Care Team, as well as relevant support services.
The Children and Young People Act 2008, requires this planning to begin once the child turns 15 years old. At this time, their Case Plan becomes known as their Transition Plan with the primary goal to successfully transition the child to adulthood and eventually independence. Planning will identify all the anticipated supports and assistance the child will need from the age of 15 to 25 years, and will be reviewed annually to ensure it remains relevant. As their carer, you have an important role in helping the child consider their options and once decided, support them to work towards these. One of the biggest decisions for the child is working out where they will live.
The majority of children remain living with their carers. This may be because they are still finishing school, plan to do more study or simply because they have a close relationship. If the child remains living with you, and they are aged 18 to 20 years old (inclusive), you may be able eligible to apply for the Extended Continuum of Care subsidy. If this matches your situation, please speak with your case manager.
The actual process of transitioning starts at different times for different children – for the child in your care it will depend on their specific circumstances. The timing for transition, and possible aftercare support, is discussed as part of the planning and annual review processes. When the process does begin it will include assisting the child to:
- locate stable living arrangements, which can include remaining with you until they are ready to move out
- access education and financial security
- receive practical assistance, such as packing
- compile important documents, like their birth certificate and passport (if required)
- learn life skills, such as cooking and budgeting.
For children moving to independent living, financial assistance in meeting some of the initial set-up costs may also be provided. These costs include a one-off purchase of basic items. The child may also be eligible for the Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) through the Australian Government. This is a one-off support payment up to $1500 intended to meet some transition costs. Your case manager will discuss these as part of the transition planning and process. More information is also available from the TILA website
During the transition phase, your case manager will regularly monitor and review the child’s Transition Plan to ensure it is working, objectives are being met and if changes are needed that these are being made. You should also encourage the child to share how they feel their transition is going and if they need help to resolve any issues. It is possible for you to continue to receive certain carer financial support. Please speak with your case manager about your circumstances and what may be available to you.
When the time comes for the child in your care to start transition planning, they may be eager and excited to plan for reaching adulthood. But, they may instead be uncertain, anxious or feel they will be left alone and unsupported. It is important you help them to express their feelings so transition planning can put things in place to help build their confidence and address their concerns.
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