FOSTER and kinship carers in Queensland will now have their allowance extended for children who turn 18 while they’re still at school.
Previously, the foster care allowance was cut off as soon as a child turned 18.
“If a child in your family turns 18 halfway through Year 12, you wouldn’t just cut off financial support on their birthday – you just wouldn’t do that,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. “That’s why we’ve taken this vital step.”
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The premier said extending the allowance from 2020/21 would ensure children living in foster homes were supported through their last year of schooling.
“They will not have to worry that their circumstances could change in the most important and stressful year of their education,” she said.
“As a result of the introduction of Prep into Queensland schools, more and more foster children are now finishing Year 12 after they turn 18.
“Up to now, the foster carer allowance ended when a young person turned 18, but from this year we are extending this for while our children and young people are enrolled at school.
“While we had been supporting children to finish school on a case-by-case basis, this funding gives them peace of mind and security.”
The Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the additional financial support would allow children in care to be supported through until the age of 19, regardless of their education status.
“Transitioning to independence isn’t something that happens overnight,” Ms Farmer said.
“That’s why we made transition to independence planning a legal requirement from the age of 15 as one of a suite of reforms we legislated with the Child Protection Reform Amendment Act 2017, which took effect in October last year.
“These changes provide provide permanency and stability for children, including after the age of 18.
“Children don’t suddenly become adults when they turn 18 or even when they finish school, it’s a process that happens over time and with family support just as it is in any other family.
“This extended funding provides our wonderful foster and kinship carers the financial stability they need to continue to support the young people in their care as part of their family, as well as helping support them to finish high school.
“Our foster and kinship carers are some of the kindest, most wonderful people I’ve met, and they open their homes and their hearts to welcome foster children into their family.
“This funding will support them to do that while the young people in their care transition to independence.”
The allowances will also be payable to long-term guardians and permanent guardians.