Young people with complex needs living in residential care will soon be able to take their next steps into adult life with greater confidence and support, thanks to an innovative new program to be trialled in South Australia.

The State Government’s $2.7 million Next Steps pilot program will provide young people leaving residential care with support to build practical life skills in areas such as housing, employment, education, finance and health, up to age 21.

The pilot program builds on the State Government’s successful Stability in Family Based Care program, which, for the first time in South Australia, extended carer payments to support young people aged 18 to 21. Previously, carer payments ceased when young people turned 18.

As at 31 July 2021, the program has successfully supported more than 100 young people to stay at home with their families beyond age 18.

Funding for the new pilot was announced in the 2021-22 State Budget and a tender is now open to find a service provider to run the pilot.

Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said the State Government was committed to improving outcomes for our vulnerable children and young people to give them the best opportunity to succeed in life.

“Moving into adulthood and independence is a huge step in any young person’s life,” said Minster Sanderson.

“Young people leaving care often face this big change in their life without family support and with additional barriers due to trauma experienced in their early years.

“Many young people moving out of residential care need support to find safe, suitable accommodation after they turn 18, but they also need help to build the knowledge and practical life skills needed to sustain housing.

“Our aspiration is that young people who participate in the Next Steps pilot will benefit from receiving these new, additional supports to help them move into adulthood with more confidence.

“Through our successful Stability in Family Based Care program, the State Government is enabling young adults beyond the age of 18 continued support when they need it most.

“Now, our $2.7 million pilot program will build on that, supporting young people leaving residential care.

“As the state’s first dedicated Minister for Child Protection, I have always maintained we will continue to look at new and innovative ways to ensure we are improving outcomes for children and young people in care – and this is two examples of how we are delivering on this commitment.”

The Next Steps pilot program is expected to start in January 2022 and will help at least 20 young people leaving residential care over the next 3.5 years.

The open tender process for the Next Steps Pilot Program closes on 4 November 2021. More information is available at www.tenders.sa.gov.au

State Government initiatives to support children and young people leaving care include:

  • Delivering and implementing the Stability in Family Based Care program, extending carer payments for eligible carers to support young people from 18 to age 21.
  • Continuing to fund the Dame Roma Michell grants program, which delivers grants to young people with a care experience.
  • Funding the CREATE Foundation to provide DCP with advice about how to improve outcomes for children and young people in care.
  • Redesigning the Supported Independent Living Services (SILS) that provides care and support to young people aged 16 to 17 years in their transition to adult life.
  • Funding post-care services through Relationships Australia South Australia, including financial wellbeing support services.
  • Expanding the Investing in their future initiative, which is a whole of government commitment, providing priority access to services for children and young people in care, and those who have left care. An example of this includes a new partnership with the Australian Dental Foundation providing dental services to eligible care leavers up to age 25.
  • In addition, the State Government is delivering school scholarships for children in care thanks to a new and unique partnership with Catholic Education SA and SEDA College.