Customised care for 17-21-year olds important - Former state care child

By Te Kāea

The government will raise the age to leave state care from 17 to 21. Tupua Urlich, who grew up in state care, says the government needs to ensure it provides the right services to those aged over 17 and not treat them as cases that require crisis management.

Urlich went into state care when he was five and lived in more than 10 foster homes.

“I think that it’s all very good to raise the age but are you gonna provide the right services? You can keep us in there longer but unless you do things differently with us you can't treat an 18-year-old who’s transitioning to become an adult as a crisis management case.”

Tupua is now 20 and works in Auckland as a youth advocate for child support group, the Dingwall Trust. He's also involved in the Social Development Minister's Youth Advisory panel to ensure the voices of children are included in the government's review of CYF.

“What it does it enables us to become productive members to find ourselves because so often Young people are lost at the end of their care experience because their ending is so abrupt and the lifestye is so unstable.”

Young people will have the opportunity to remain in state care until they are aged 21.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, “Many of them are still vulnerable some of them will be able to cope on their own some of them will be able to go out on their own they may well fail and they need to have that back stop.”

Urlich says, “I think it will change and I think it will show in the statistics to come I know personally a lot of the reasons i was ending up in trouble were huge. 202. The age that I was left, the issues I was left with the battles that I had to face that i wasn’t prepared for. They were huge in terms of contributing to my poor outcomes at the time so it will be huge.”

Raising the age of care to 21 is likely to be phased in in 2018.