A case study of policy inaction: Young people transitioning from out of home care in Victoria

Philip Mendes

Abstract


Concerned service providers, researchers and care leavers have been lobbying for extended (post-18 years) supports for young people transitioning from out of home care in the Australian state of Victoria for more than 20 years. These campaigns have succeeded in placing transitions from care on the policy agenda, and in persuading successive Victorian governments to introduce some leaving care policy programs and supports. But these initiatives have attracted limited resources, and mostly assisted the preparation of young people aged 15-17 years to leave care, rather than offering post-care support until at least 21 years. This paper argues that a number of factors have contributed to this policy inaction including stigmatization of care leavers, budgetary challenges, and the competing sector demands for funding of out of home care services vs post-care services. But the key factor is arguably the dominant language used by governments which narrowly frames the policy agenda around progressing inflexible age-based transitions to independence, instead of acknowledging that care leavers, as per their non-care peers in the general population, require continuing parenting well beyond the age of 18 years.


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References


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