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Sharon

Sharon Gough

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Western Australia Social Welfare > Children Care And Protection
Social Welfare > Homelessness
The Department for Child Protection and Family Support Churchill Fellowship to investigate programs for young people leaving care that prevent homelessness - New Zealand, Canada
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Conclusions and Recommendations

This project explored international responses in New Zealand and Canada that support the prevention of homelessness for young people leaving care. The project aimed to feed key findings into the Out-Of-Home Care reforms currently underway in WA. Unexpectedly, this exploration also provided opportunity to exchange information, knowledge and resources and acknowledge innovative and quality practice within Australia.

Young people leaving care are a particularly vulnerable cohort, requiring a suite of services to support positive and smooth transitions from care to the community. The following recommendations are achievable and essential to reduce the number of young people leaving care who leave the care of the Department for Communities: Child Protection and Family Support and become homeless. 

  1. Extend the age (to 25 years) that young people leaving care can access practical and material support from CPFS, particularly for young people who are identified as likely to experience turbulent transitions that could result in homelessness. 
  2. Specify Housing First as a required model within the Transition to Adulthood service tenders. 
  3. Child Protection and Family Support to lead funded homelessness service providers in developing a Coordinated Access and Assessment process. Use the Needs Assessment Tool to determine the level and intensity of support a young person needs and match that to appropriate, funded housing programs and services. 
  4. Centralise a system of measurement that tracks progress and service impact in achieving outcomes for young people leaving care. Measure outcomes across domains defining basic needs, living skills, major life areas, social competency and support systems (such as the Calgary Youth Acuity Scale). 
  5. Child Protection and Family Support to lead Out-Of-Home Care and Transition Service providers in shared learning forums; building sector expertise and evidenced-based responses to the specialised needs of young people transitioning from care. 
  6. Specify requirements in CPFS tenders that make provision for Aboriginal young people to access culture as therapy. Transition to Adulthood Service providers to develop stand-alone housing programs for Aboriginal young people that embrace culture, healing and security.
  7. The Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia to lead youth-serving organisations to collaborate and develop a sector-led Plan to End Youth Homelessness in WA. 
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