Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.
“Under current laws a 17-year-old is regarded as no longer being a child and no longer in need of care and protection.
“That means some of our most vulnerable kids – the ones who have been in statutory care and have often experienced significant trauma or grief – are ‘exited’ out of foster care without adequate support expected to become fully functioning members of society with all the responsibility that entails.
“It is despite many still being at school and despite the average age of young Kiwis leaving parental care being 23. They are not eligible for Housing NZ homes so are often forced into living in undesirable accommodation, such as garages, or on the street.
“The Dingwall Trust, which has been providing residential care for young people for decades, argues the leaving age should be raised to at least 18.
"It has launched a postcard campaign urging Social Development Minister Anne Tolley to make it a priority.
"The Government sadly missed an opportunity to change the law when it passed the Vulnerable Children legislation earlier this year. I urge them not to let another year pass before they change this anomaly. These young people deserve better."