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Funding provides long-term accommodation to vulnerable young adults

Turning 18 is an exciting time full of new freedoms for most Australian teenagers but for many of those in the foster care system, turning 18 marks the end of their placement and their final day of stable accommodation.

In the current climate, most young people who have grown up in care experience an abrupt end to formal support at 18. With limited post-care support, minimal education and a significant shortage of long-term accommodation, the statistical outcomes for this cohort are particularly poor, with 35% homeless, 29% unemployed and 28% already parents.

To address this issue, Foster Care Angels NSW have developed “The Launch Pad” a new program providing people aged 18-24 with long term, subsidised and fully supported accommodation.

The Launch Pad provides opportunities for young people to re-engage in education and training, assistance into paid employment, empowers them with essential life skills training, weekly confidential counselling, and matches them with a mentor to help create their support network.

Foster Care Angels NSW has partnered with one of the biggest community housing providers in Australia to provide well maintained and centrally located housing, facilitating the provision of affordable and long-term accommodation.

Earlier this year The Lottery Office donated $10,000, to Foster Care Angels to completely furnish two apartments with brand new furniture, whitegoods and homewards to accommodate four young people.

Foster Care Angels founder, Kelly Doyle said participants can stay in the program until they feel ready to make the transition to independent living.

“Without The Launch Pad, these young people would be homeless, unemployed and have no real hope. We are driven to provide this service because these young people deserve the opportunity to reach their goals and achieve their dreams,” Ms Doyle said.

“We support participants as they transition to independence to ensure they are set up for success. Once they have transitioned, we keep in regular contact so if anything happens, they are supported.

“Our first young ladies have moved into their new apartments and they are loving it! We have engaged them in education and are assisting them in gaining employment, although this is challenging in the current climate, we are using this time to teach them vital life skills like financial literacy, cooking and self-care.”

Cate is currently in foster care and said she no longer dreads her 18th birthday.

“Knowing The Launch Pad is there to support me after I turn 18 is huge. I no longer fear my birthday like I used to, and I can now plan for the future I want knowing I will have somewhere to live,” Cate said.

Presently, Foster Care Angels receives no government funding for this program, something Ms Doyle said they are trying desperately to change amidst the added challenges of COVID-19.

“We are currently trying to fund the start-up of a social enterprise that will not only provide a sustainable income for the charity but will also offer an employment opportunity for the young people accessing the program,” Ms Doyle said.

“With the closure of Clubs, the cancellation of this year’s ClubGRANTS scheme and limited opportunities for fundraising events, we have lost around 93% of our funding but cancelling the program is not an option.”

To further support this initiative, The Lottery Office has donated an additional $12,000 to cover the subsidy for two apartments for 12 months.

The Lottery Office CEO Jaclyn Wood said supporting vulnerable young people was key to breaking this viscous poverty cycle.

“Research has indicated that those who stay in care for longer, particularly past the age of 18, have far greater odds of overcoming the challenges they would normally face with the end of formal foster care,” Ms Wood said.

The Lottery Office urges anyone interested in donating to visit the Foster Care Angels website.

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