Leaving Care has a range of services and supports to assist young people aged 16 to 21 years of age to transition from care services, previously known as out of home care, to independent living and adulthood.
Leaving care services include:
- Better futures (previously known as Leaving Care Support Services, post care support, information and referral, Springboard, Aboriginal leaving care support services, and mentoring)
- Home Stretch
- Transition planning
- Leaving care hotline
Better Futures provides flexible and tailored support as you transition from out of home care to independence.
To be eligible for Better Futures support, you must be in kinship care, foster care or residential care on or after your 16th birthday and on one of the following orders Care by Secretary Order, Long-Term Care Order, Family Reunification Order.
A Better Futures worker meets with you and your case managers when you are about to turn 16 years and is available to help you transition from care services, when your Child Protection Order finishes, up until 21 years of age.
Better Futures includes:
- Case work support
- Information and advice
- Money (Flexible funding)
Better Futures provides support across a range of life areas including:
- Health and wellbeing
- Housing and living skills
- Education (including TAFE and University)
- Community and cultural connections (including mentoring)
Home Stretch provides young people in care with a more gradual and supported transition to independent living. This means you can get the support you need up to the age of 21 with the support from a Better Futures worker. Home Stretch is part of the Better Futures program.
Through Home Stretch you can stay with your kinship or foster carer until you turn 21 years of age – your carer would need to agree. Your carer can get an allowance to help support you.
If you are moving from care to independent living, you can get an allowance to help you with housing costs like rent and bills. This payment will go to an agency who will work with you to support your living arrangements.
Through Home Stretch you will be eligible for a Better Futures case worker support, information and advice and flexible funding.
Home Stretch rolled out across Victorian in late 2019 and will support about 250 young people over five years.
For more information, see Home Stretch questions and answers for Carers (word)
Note: Home Stretch is not available where COMPASS is being provided (Greater Bendigo, North East Melbourne area, Brimbank/Melton and Western Melbourne areas).
Home Stretch support for young people in care turning 18 years in 2020
In April 2020 support for young people turning 18 years and due to leave care during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic became available.
Young people in care turning 18 years between 16 March 2020 and 31 December 2020 may be eligible for additional support until 30 June 2021 via the coronavirus (COVID-19) Home Stretch initiative.
For more information, see Carers and children in care – coronavirus (COVID-19) page on the Department of Health and Human Services website and refer to the Home Stretch support for young people in care turning 18 years in 2020 fact sheet.
COMPASS is a leaving care program for young people (aged 16.5 to 18.5 years upon entry) who are living in or have recently left out of home care.
COMPASS support includes: Case worker, Education, Employment, Health and wellbeing, Community and cultural connections, A range of housing options
The COMPASS program is operating in the following areas: North East Melbourne, Loddon, (Greater Bendigo), Western Melbourne, Brimbank/Melton.
Leaving care planning
From 15.9 years of age, you will be participating in the development of your 15 plus Care and Transition plan. This plan will include supports you will need to help you transition successfully from out-of-home care into independence.
For more information, see Transition Planning for leaving care on our Providers website.
Leaving care hotline
If you are leaving care services in Victoria you can call the Leaving Care Hotline to speak to someone for advice or for a referral to a range of support services.
The Leaving Care Hotline can provide you with information about:
- Finding accommodation or staying in existing accommodation
- Staying in education or returning to studying
- Looking for a job, or applying for on the job (vocational) training
- Keeping a current job
- Re-connecting with family
- Financial help to maintain independence, if the young person has already left state care
- Linking with other support services.
Melbourne City Mission's Frontyard Service manages our Leaving Care Hotline. You can use it to connect with your nearest Better Futures service. For more information, see under 'Contacts'.
Other leaving care programs
There are a range of programs and supports available to you when leaving care.