FACS has unveiled changes to the Guidelines for the provision of assistance after leaving out-of-home care.
According to FACS, changes have been made to strengthen the leaving care planning process and to remove potential barriers to aftercare support. Key changes to note include:
- It has been emphasised that leaving care planning is to commence at 15 years of age and be completed before the young person leaves care. Completion relates to the approval of assistance, including financial assistance, so that it is available at the time the young person leaves care. Completion does not indicate that no further action may be taken on the plan and the guidelines state that future amendments are to be expected as the care leaver’s circumstances change.
- A leaving care plan must be developed even if the young person is unable or unwilling to participate. The plan is developed in consultation with those best placed to understand the young person’s needs and goals.
- Assessment of the need for further assistance beyond that available from mainstream services has been streamlined and potential barriers removed. Care leavers are no longer required to meet a minimum of three risk indicators. While indicators are still considered, this is only to identify challenges so an assessment can be made of the adequacy of universal or mainstream services and any gaps to be addressed.
- Indicators that previously limited the provision of further assistance have been removed. This includes restrictions that related to care leavers who: continue residing with their foster carer; are earning a full-time wage; have assets from compensation or a deceased state.
- Financial caps on the Aftercare Allowance, accommodation establishment costs, and education and training support have been increased by 15 per cent.
- The provision of up to 10 driving lessons has been replaced by a requirement that leaving care plans address obtaining a provisional driver’s licence as an independent living skill. Assistance to obtain a licence is separately costed in a leaving care plan and is not included in the cap that applies to other forms of education and training. FACS is currently negotiating with Transport NSW for access to driver training programs and fee exemptions for young people in care.
The 2017 Guidelines for the provision of assistance after leaving out-of-home care take effect immediately and are to be applied in conjunction with other FACS guidelines and contractual agreements.