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3.4.13 Leaving the CEO's care and transitioning to adulthood

Last Modified: 08-Jun-2022 Review Date: 29-Sep-2021

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

Leaving care planning is an ongoing collaborative process between a young person and their Care Team. Turning 18 years may be both exciting and confronting for a young person in the CEO's care, who may feel they are losing the support and 'safety net' the Department has provided for them. They may need additional support and reassurance during this period.

When they leave care, young people should feel confident their Leaving Care Plan (LCP) will help them to:

  • transition to independent accommodation, unless another arrangement is in place
  • develop and improve independent living skills
  • put practical supports in place so they know how to ask for help when they need it
  • develop and maintain contact with their family and other significant people
  • understand what the Department and other government agencies can assist with after they leave care
  • obtain ongoing professional support, particularly if they live with disability
  • manage any existing legal issues, including applications for criminal injuries compensation and sorting out their documentation.

Leaving Care Plans should identify and approve specific items the young person is likely to need post care. This will make it easier for the young person to ask for and obtain the item when needed. Not all post care needs can be anticipated, so you should respond with flexibility and empathy when a young person presents to a district office seeking help after they have exited care. For assistance with creating a leaving care budget, see Leaving Care Funding Template (in related resources). 

All requests for assistance from a young person who has left care should be considered, even if the assistance being sought was not identified in their LCP.  For example, an item does not need to be included in a care plan to be provided to a young person.


Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department. The term "placement arrangement" is used in the Children and Communities Services Act (2004) to refer to care arrangement made under s. 79(2) for the placement of a child. These terms mean the same thing and are interchangeable.
Rules

  • A young person's Care Plan must incorporate a Leaving Care Plan (LCP) following the first review of the Care Plan that is held after they reach 15 years of age.  An LCP is a plan that: 

    1. identifies the needs of the young person in preparing to leave the CEO's care and in transitioning to other living arrangements; and
    2. outlines steps or measures to be taken to assist the young person to meet those needs (including the social services proposed to be provided when the young person leaves the CEO's care).


Process Maps

Information and Instructions

  • Leaving care planning
  • Leaving Care Plan
  • Dimensions of care and other considerations
  • Leaving care planning meetings
  • Post care support and funding
  • Young person’s access to personal material
  • Accessing leaving care funds
  • Additional support
  • Leaving care planning


    Assist will create an alert to remind you to start leaving care planning from the young person's 15th birthday. The message is displayed on the 'Care Plan – Forms Summary' screen and will continue to be displayed until the young person reaches 18 years or is no longer in the CEO's care. 

    As part of a young person's Care Plan, leaving care planning occurs on an 11-month planning cycle.  The young person's Care Plan must be modified to include an LCP at the first review of the Care Plan after they reach 15.  A meeting should also be held several months before the young person turns 18 years to modify the plan.

    Leaving care planning occurs across three phases (below). Each phase has a distinct purpose and focus that builds on the previous phase to increase the young person's capacity, network, and resources.

    Phase 1 – Preparation:

    This stage commences when the young person reaches 15 years. The focus is on education and life skills development to support successful transitioning to independent living in the future.

    Start having conversations early with the young person about their dreams and aspirations for the future.

    Many young people may not know what they want to do, or feel their possibilities are limited regarding employment, education, lifestyle and career. It is important to help the young person see their strengths and potential, to learn what options are available to them and to encourage them wherever possible. Plan to ensure the young person is provided with as many opportunities available as possible.  

    A referral to a leaving care service should be made during Phases 1 or 2 if a young person enters the CEO's care after turning 15 years. The Department funds three leaving care services to provide care leavers with independent living skills education and referrals to relevant support agencies. They can also provide supports after a young person exits care. Ensure referrals are commenced at the earliest opportunity to accommodate for associated waitlist times. Wherever possible, referrals should include a face-to-face meeting with the service provider, but in all cases the referral should be followed up with a conversation with the service provider.

    For more information, see the Leaving care checklist for staff - Phase 1 Preparation (in related resources).

    Phase 2 – Transition to independence:

    The priorities for Phase 2 are accommodation and preparation of post care support, with a focus on life skills, education and training.  

    While each young person will have a unique trajectory, Phase 2 should commence before the young person reaches 17 years. Not all youth services, including for health and disability, automatically transition to adult services. Where appropriate, plan for this transition with the young person.  Consider supporting the young person to apply to relevant courses or apprenticeships and to make decisions about higher education. Life skills developed in Phase 1 should be built on, and where there are deficits identified, additional efforts made to address these.

    Special consideration and additional planning during Phase 2 will be required for a young person with a disability or low capacity for safe independent living, particularly if they are not eligible for NDIS support. If the young person is eligible for NDIS, ensure that their NDIS plan is updated once they are 16 years to reflect their changing circumstances as they transition to independence, including funding changes needed.  Funding provisions in the NDIS plan should also consider housing. For further information, refer to Chapters 3.4 Supporting children with disability and Working with the national Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

    For more information, see the  Leaving Care Checklist for Staff – Phase 2 Transition (in related resources).

    Phase 3 – Post care:

    When a young person leaves care and until they turn 25 years, the Department may provide a range of assistance through advice, referral and support in the areas of employment, education, housing, health and other matters.  Some will have an entitlement to assistance under the legislation (see ss.96 and 99), whereas others may still request assistance and the Department may provide the assistance requested having regard to the young person's needs (see s.98).

    In planning for Phase 3, the LCP must identify the young person's specific post-care goals and clearly state what assistance is likely to be required during the post-care period. 

    For more information on post-care goals, see the Leaving Care Checklist for Staff – Phase 3 Post Care (in related resources). 

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    Leaving Care Plan

    The LCP should explicitly state how the Department will help the young person achieve their goals.  A final copy of the LCP must be provided to the young person.

    Where a young person has an NDIS plan, consider if they require a functional assessment, which will help to identify that young person's specific needs in relation to transitioning to independence. 

    Consider putting very specific funding plans and approvals in place for the first several years after exiting care, with broader plans in place until the young person turns 25 years. 

    Before a young person leaves the CEO's care, they must be provided with a written explanation of the assistance that may or must be provided to them under the Act.  

    This information should also be carefully explained to the young person in a manner they can understand and according to their specific abilities.   


    For example, if the young person speaks English as a second language, the document may need to be translated. If the young person has disability, they may require an accessible version sent to them via email. If the young person has a cognitive disability, they may prefer a Words and Pictures style explanation that will help them remember key points. You should already have a plan in place for communicating with this young person, but if you are unsure how best to ensure the young person is able to understand the information, discuss this with the young person's therapist, if they have one.  

    Pay particular attention to planning for young people who are living in rural and remote areas where community support services may be limited or difficult to access.


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    Dimensions of care and other considerations

    Each dimension of care should be considered in relation to how a young person can be supported to transition to young adulthood. To do this, actively look for opportunities where the young person can take on more responsibility and practice life skills.

    Safety 

    If a young person is disengaged from the Department, continue to provide them with opportunities to re-engage. This might include:

    • regularly sending text messages
    • taking a young person out for food
    • offering to provide transport to an appointment
    • offering to buy clothing, especially before winter, and
    • making time to meet with the young person when they attend the district office. 

    Safety remains an important area of planning for leaving care. Young people enter a secondary phase of "high risk" to their physical and psychological safety during adolescence. Where a young person is engaging in high-risk behaviours, such as harmful Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) use, provide them with support and practical assistance, while remaining future-focused with an emphasis on supporting the young person to develop their own safety plans and networks. For more information on supporting young people with harmful AOD use, refer to Chapter 1.4 Alcohol and other drug use – at risk young people.

    Young people who have been in the CEO's care have a heightened risk of experiencing family and domestic violence (FDV), including intimate partner violence. Where a young person is experiencing FDV in any form, the risk must be taken seriously.

    Young people with disability are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, particularly as they transition to adulthood. If you are concerned about a young person's vulnerability or behaviours, consider seeking behaviour supports for that young person through their NDIS plan (if they have one) or other support services.

    Where the young person's decision making ability is impaired (due to a mental health issue, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, serious drug or alcohol issues, psychiatric condition) and they are unlikely to have the capacity to make personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions, or manage their own financial and legal affairs, you may need to consider an administration and guardianship application. Applications are made to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

    A Guardian appointed under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 can make decisions about where the young person lives, contact arrangements,  travel, health care, support services,  employment and legal decisions for the young person.

    An Administrator makes decisions about their financial affairs and assets and any civil legal claims. Orders come into effect at 18 years of age and are generally reviewed after 2-5 years.

    Having a Guardian and/or Administrator appointed under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 may have a significant impact on that young person's life due to their limited autonomy and decision making capacity. If there is capacity for the young person to succeed with other formal or informal supports in place, this option should be supported and tested prior to seeking an administration or guardianship order.

    Where a young person has a suspected disability, but has no diagnosis or NDIS plan, consider seeking a functional assessment to better understand the young person's needs.

    The Guardian or Administrator can be an individual known to the young person, such as a close friend or family member, or the State Administration Tribunal (SAT) may appoint the Public Advocate as guardian and the Public Trustee as administrator.  If anyone other than the Public Advocate or Public Trustee is appointed, the young person should have confidence that this person will work in their best interests.

    Where guardianship and/or administration is being considered, you should contact the State Solicitor's Office (SSO) on (08) 9264 1888 or via J.Langworthy@sso.wa.gov.au as soon as possible when the young person is 15 years of age, to involve the SSO in the planning process.  

    For further details refer to the MOU between the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and the Office of the Public Advocate (in related resources).

    Accommodation

    Young people who have been in care are at higher risk of homelessness once they leave care, particularly those who have had multiple care arrangements.

    Prioritise planning for housing or other safe accommodation for the young person.  Safe and sustainable housing is a necessity when transitioning to young adulthood.

    For information on and a list of not-for-profit accommodation services, see the Department's Service Directory. Additional housing options will be available for a young person with disability and an NDIS plan, such as shared supported accommodation. For more information about different housing options, email LeavingCareRegister@housing.wa.gov.au

    If a young person is ready for independent living, but is struggling to manage finances, or there are issues with their payments, consider paying the young person's rent, and transition responsibility to the young person over time. It is not in the young person's best interests to be evicted, to accrue debt or risk homelessness due to unpaid rent. 

    Continuous At Risk Youth Accommodation (ARYA) emergency care arrangements place a young person at extreme risk of homelessness and should be avoided wherever possible. 

    Voluntary and involuntary income management through Centrelink should be considered as a short-term option only and in limited cases, such as where a young person is at risk of exploitation. Income management provides a young person with limited opportunity to become responsible for their own finances. It limits a young person's spending options and can lead to stigma. A trustee can be appointed from 16 years where there are ongoing concerns of financial exploitation, such as where a young person has a cognitive disability diagnosis.

    Where appropriate, refer the young person for housing via the Housing Wait List Application Form as soon as possible after they turn 15 years. You can sign the form on behalf of the young person, as a delegate of the CEO, but the young person should be encouraged to co-sign. Wherever possible, complete the form with the young person so they are aware of, and part, of the process. You should gain the young person's verbal consent before submitting the form, if the young person is unable or unwilling to be part of the process, but where submitting the application is in the young person's best interests. Where a young person cannot make this decision due to disability, consider referring them to supported decision-making services through their NDIS plan.

    The young person's Court Order and birth certificate are the only documents required to prove identification when submitting the initial housing application. If priority housing is required, additional supporting documentation will be required to support the request. This additional documentation can be provided along with the original Housing Wait List Application form or can be provided at the follow-up priority wait list interview with the young person. For details on the criteria for accessing priority housing, see the Priority Housing Need Assessment Framework.

    A referral for housing through the Department does not guarantee the young person will be offered a home before turning 18 years. Even where a young person is unsure if they require independent accommodation, talk to them about submitting the application to give them the best chance possible to obtain stable accommodation before they leave care.

    Accommodation options a young person can be supported to plan for include:

    • Public housing
    • Community housing
    • Private rental
    • Home ownership

    Where a young person and their carers want the young person to remain at home, ensure the carer is aware that the subsidy they are currently receiving will end when the young person reaches 18 years. If the carer is aware of the financial implications and everyone still wants to pursue this option, support the young person and their care team to make this option work. The wrap-around support from a carer who loves and supports the young person will be more stable than many youth accommodation options and can allow them to focus on education and/or employment before transitioning to independent living.

    Where a young person with disability wishes to stay in their care arrangement beyond 18 years, and it is the best option for the young person, their carer may become a host carer under their NDIS plan. The carer could also become a Guardian for the young person, where this is in the young person's best interests, and they agree. It is still important to encourage the young person to consider a parallel plan to ensure they have as many options available to them as possible.

    A young person's detention status should not impact on their LCP in relation to independent accommodation. Stable accommodation is crucial for this cohort of young people to successfully transition to young adulthood and you should engage with the Banksia Hill Detention co-located worker to ensure leaving care planning is initiated and continues throughout their period in detention. For more information on planning while a young person is detained, refer to Chapter.

    If a young person has not been referred to the Housing Waitlist at the time of leaving care and they approach a district office for post-care support, you should prioritise the submission of an application. 

    Health

    Support the young person to navigate the health system and ensure they have everything needed to access high quality, confidential health care. From the time a young person is 14 years, they have the right to keep their medical decisions private, if they wish, and this right should be respected by the care team. This can be more complicated where a young person lives with disability and may require support to make medical decisions into adulthood. In these circumstances, consider if support for decision-making can be provided through the young person's NDIS plan.

    To ensure the young person's access to health care, ensure they:

    • have a Medicare card
    • know how to book a medical appointment
    • have a regular GP they feel comfortable with if they would like one
    • have a system for managing any medical costs, such as for medication or appointments with private practitioners, and
    • have someone they can trust to help them when they 'get stuck'.

    Trauma may have a significant impact on a young person's physical and mental health. It is important for a young person to have any relevant diagnoses made as early as possible, particularly in relation to chronic conditions. Issues related to diet and lifestyle, sexual health and contraception, mental health and (particularly for young women) reproductive health, should be as well managed as possible, so the young person does not have to navigate and manage these issues on their own.

    For more information on supporting a young person with their sexual health and contraceptive needs, refer to  Chapter 2.2 Sexually active young people.

    Navigating the NDIS is a complicated process and is likely to feel overwhelming for a young person who may struggle to advocate for themselves. Where they are comfortable to do so, the young person should be involved as early as possible in managing their NDIS plan so they can take over when they leave care. If the young person is unlikely to have this capacity, discuss their options with them, including referral to an advocacy service. For more information on the NDIS, refer to Chapter 3.4 Working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  

    Education

    Young people should be assisted to access post-secondary education and training. Wherever possible, the young person should drive conversations about their goals and what they need from the Department to reach these goals.  Decisions should be informed by these conversations and the LCP must record the young person's views and wishes for the future, to the extent that the young person provides them.  In addition to the young person's LCP, the young person should have at least one Documented Plan (DP), such as an Individual Education Plan or an Individual Transition Plan (ITP). For more information on Documented Plans, refer to Chapter 3.4 Education.

    For costs associated with education and training, check if the young person is receiving any relevant Commonwealth post-secondary education supports. The Australian Government's Study Assist website gives information for students HELP Loans and VET Student Loans. Leaving care funds will not cover university fees, but it is important to support a young person in other ways where they are studying at university. Non-graduation with an accumulation of debt is a very distressing situation for a young person and places them in an extremely difficult financial position.

    A Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) may also be available for some courses and should be explored, as the Federal Government will pay part of the fees for these places.  Young people under 25 years who are or have been in care can apply to a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for consideration against financial hardship. Consult the district or residential care Education Officer to explore what scholarship and/or training schemes the young person may be eligible for.  You should check the young person's NDIS plan includes support for study, employment or training options.

    The Department of Education, Skills and Employment offer Access and Participation programs to help young Australians who want to attend university, regardless of circumstances, background or location through a number of specific programs. A young person may be supported with accommodation where they have disability, or to re-locate if they are unable to access educational opportunities due to their remote location. 

    If a young person is not eligible for Commonwealth financial support, and the young person wishes to enrol in a course that will progress their education or employment goals, the Department may pay the fees using leaving care funding. 

    Social and family relationships

    As a young person gets older, it is important that they learn to initiate and maintain safe and healthy relationships with family, friends, associates, and intimate partners. To facilitate this, decision-making about contact and care arrangements should slowly transition from the responsibility of the Department and the Care Team to full responsibility of the young person when they reach 18 years. The transition period should include:

    • negotiating with the young person and more shared decision-making responsibility
    • supporting contact with siblings who are still in the care of the CEO
    • supporting the young person to develop and drive their own safety plans in situations where there may be risk
    • helping the young person to understand and advocate for their rights
    • supporting the young person to plan and organise contact with safe family members where appropriate, and
    • identifying if there are any relationships the young person would like to develop or strengthen and supporting the young person to do so. This might be a good time to use Family Finding to develop relationships with family members or other significant people they may have lost contact with.

    The young person may also need support to initiate and maintain safe and healthy intimate partner relationships. Consent and safety in relationships can be a particularly difficult area for young people to navigate but is at least as important as contraception and sexual health. A young person is more likely to struggle if they have not been exposed to positive relationship role models, but any young person is at risk of physical and sexual abuse, exploitation and FDV.  A young person who is perpetrating abuse against a partner will also need support to change their behaviour. Where the young person has an NDIS plan, they may be eligible for behaviour support.

    Recreation and leisure

    A young person may lose important routines, relationships, or coping strategies if they cannot continue to participate in sport or a hobby because they can no longer afford them.

    To limit the risk of this happening, consider:

    • including equipment or high-cost items in the young person's LCP
    • supporting the young person to explore coaching or sport mentoring roles to allow them to continue to participate, without the associated costs
    • supporting the young person to identify costs early and develop a saving plan or budget to manage without financial support
    • helping them explore other sport or hobbies which have minimal costs
    • if the young person has an NDIS plan, whether their plan can include support under social interaction to continue with sports and hobbies.

    Emotional and behavioural development

    Next to infancy, young adulthood is the most dangerous period in terms of abuse, avoidable serious injury and death. The biggest risk factors are related to suicide and other mental health issues, violence, sexual violence, high-risk behaviours and harmful AOD use.

    Planning in this area can help a young person to increase their resilience, their willingness to ask for help and their capacity to engage in self-protective behaviours. Helping a young person to consider the risks and to plan risk mitigation strategies via safety planning can help a young person to learn how to keep themselves safer in adulthood.

    Each young person should have their own safety plan and safety network to help them manage risks related to AOD use and mental health issues. As the young person gets older, they should take on more responsibility for updating the plan and managing their own safety network, so they will feel confident doing so when the Department is no longer actively involved in their day-to-day lives.

    If the young person has a mental health issue, such as depression, they may need a longer transition to manage the associated issues prior to turning 18 years. The LCP should consider how the young person will access support in the future and how they will be able to pay for supports, medication or other relevant services post-care. If the young person has chronic mental health issues, such as emerging psychosis or bipolar, consider if the young person may be eligible for an NDIS plan. Where a young person has an NDIS plan, they may be eligible for funding to receive mental health support.

    Identity and culture (including CSP and Native Title)

    Each Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and/or culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) child and young person in the CEO's care must have a Cultural Support Plan (CSP). Each plan will identify the child or young person's individual cultural needs and document how the Department will meet these needs. For more information on cultural planning, refer to Chapter 3.4 – Cultural Support Planning

    Explore and record if an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person has a claim to Native Title rights, as recognised by the Australian Federal Court.

    Native Title rights relate primarily to control or access to land, but may also include educational, financial and employment opportunities, all of which are fundamental components to maximising an Aboriginal young person's social and emotional wellbeing into adulthood.

    For further information relating to Native Title and how to support a young person to access it, refer to Chapter 3.4 Native Title  

    As with other areas of planning, the young person should be supported and encouraged to gradually take on responsibility for identifying, managing, and planning around their cultural needs. Leaving care planning may be an appropriate time to engage in Family Finding if a young person has previously had minimal contact with family, or if the young person has lost contact with some family members over time. Where a young person is in detention, work with the Senior Child Protection Worker Banksia Hill (SCPW BHDC) to explore and identify the young person's cultural needs and how to address these in the LCP.

    Financial & Legal (including Criminal injuries compensation)

    This domain involves the bulk of the practical work required to support a young person to transition to young adulthood. The young person may feel overwhelmed managing this, or excited to take the lead. As much as possible, take direction from the young person and proceed at a pace they feel comfortable with. To do this, you should start these processes as early as possible.

    At minimum, a young person will need the following in place to become successfully independent from the Department:

    1. Their own bank account, with the skills to manage their own funds. This includes communicating with the bank where necessary to set-up accounts as required.
    2. A tax file number. They should know how to locate this on the MyGov website if they lose it.
    3. Centrelink payments in place and know how to follow-up with Centrelink if there is an issue.
    4. Access to TILA and other relevant grants.
    5. Information on any ongoing legal issues, including criminal injuries compensation claims or unpaid fines. 

    Please see below for specific details related to each of these areas:

    Bank accounts and finances

    Young people in the CEO's care should be given the opportunity to open a bank account in their own name, with their own bankcard. Each bank has their own rules and policies, and the age where this is possible varies, but most allow a young person to set-up their own account from 14 years. To set up an account, take the young person to the bank yourself, or provide their identification documents to the carer so the carer can help the young person. Only the young person, or in some instances the Child Protection Worker or Team Leader, has delegation to be a co-signatory for a back account. Where a young person is vulnerable to exploitation or where they are engaged in harmful drug use, using a co-signatory may be in the young person's best interests. Carers are unable to act as a co-signatory and should not have access or management of a young person's finances.

    Where a young person lacks the capacity to manage their money appropriately, consider opening two linked accounts. Income and entitlements can be deposited in one and a pre-arranged amount regularly transferred to another which can be accessed by the young person. The first account should have high interest, to support the young person's capacity to save. The amount being transferred should be decided with the young person, according to the young person's needs and be reviewed regularly. The young person should have visibility of their accounts, for example, via on-line banking

    While a young person is in the CEO's care, the Department has a responsibility to manage their financial interests. Where a young person receives a lump sum greater than $100,000 this amount is usually directed to the Public Trustee to manage. However, this option should be considered carefully due to high fees and low interest on that young person's money. Where a young person receives a lump sum under $100,000, the funds can be placed in the Department's Trust Account for children in care.

    If a young person is likely to receive a lump sum, help them plan to manage the money responsibly. Consider supporting the young person to see a professional financial advisor to explore their options. This money has the potential to provide substantial assistance to the young person in their transition to young adulthood but may also trigger an emotional distress where the payment is associated with a traumatic event or came from a deceased relative. Large amounts of money can also place a young person at risk of exploitation from others or harm to themselves due to high-risk behaviours. All these issues should be discussed with the young person in a supportive environment before they gain access to their money.

    Tax file number (TFN)

    As part of leaving care planning you should support a young person to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN), as early as possible. Applications are made online and if completed correctly with all relevant documentation, the process should be completed in 28 business days.

    A young person who is working should be supported to lodge a tax return. They will need to do so once they are independent, and the process will be easier if they have had practice.

    Centrelink

    Most young people in the CEO's care will have a Centrelink entitlement from 16 years of age.  Start exploring what entitlement will best meet the young person's needs prior to this, so they can start receiving their entitlement as soon as possible. If a young person is pregnant, has a child in their care, or their circumstances change in another way while they are in the CEO's care, they may need assistance to apply for a different entitlement. Dealing with Centrelink can be difficult, and the young person should have an opportunity to learn about their rights, who to talk to if they have an issue and how to problem solve. 

    Ensure applications are made prior to a young person turning 16 years.

    Disability Support Pension payments can only be backpaid to the date of the application being submitted and can be submitted up to three months before a young person turns 16 years. 


    Youth Allowance/ABSTUDY Schooling Award B and Disability Support Pension are not to be used to pay for school fees. Some payments, such as ABSTUDY, are automatically redirected to pay boarding school fees by Centrelink.

    In these instances, consider supporting the young person to transition to Youth Allowance so they receive their living allowance. If the cessation of clothing allowance disadvantages the young person, consider preparing a submission for the allowance to continue.

    For further information on Boarding School fees, refer to Chapter 3.5 Case management costs - special purpose funding: major, extraordinary and capital costs.

    TILA and financial grants

    TILA (Towards Independent Living Allowance) is a payment of up to $1,500 from the Australian Government to help eligible young people who are in, or have been in, formal out-of-home care with their successful transition to independence. It can be used towards housing, essential household items, life skills training, education or employment expenses, vehicle registration and more. The LCP should state if an application has been made or if it is progressing, and if the young person can access any remaining funds. The LCP should be updated as the application progresses.

    The payment is made to the Department, where items/services are purchased from a Pre-Paid Card, direct invoice or via a Government Purchasing Card on behalf of the young person. The CPW or district staff helping the young person to access TILA should follow the steps outlined in the TILA Flowchart (in related resources). If the young person has already reached 18 years, they can get help to apply for TILA at any district office.

    The Youth Grant and the Wearne Trust  are two other financial support options for young people leaving the CEO's care.  Applications can be made to support young people transitioning into independent living including bond assistance, furnishing, installing utilities, white goods and digital devices.

    Fines enforcement

    Regularly check to see if a young person has any fines through the Fines Enforcement Registry (FER). If not addressed, unpaid fines may incur extra fees and stop a young person from getting their driver's license. There may be other options apart from paying the fine, such as converting the fine to Community Work or asking for the fine to be waived based on financial hardship. These options should be explored if the young person agrees.

    Identification documents

    Support the young person to apply for as many forms of 'Identification' as possible. As a priority, the young person should have:

    • a passport, and
    • a driver's licence/WA proof of age photo ID.

    Other forms of identification you should support the young person to obtain before turning 18 years include:

    • Working with Children (WWC) Card, if required for child related work
    • bank debit card
    • original notification letter for their Tax File Number (TFN)
    • Medicare card
    • student ID card, if required
    • copy or extract of their birth certificate, and
    • a lease or utility bill with their name and address listed.

    Copies of the above documents should be placed on the young person's Child History file. If they lose any form of ID, the young person should be shown how to re-apply as soon as possible. You should organise multiple copies of the young person's birth certificate to be notarised, so they can provide this in-place of their original birth certificate where required.

    Criminal injuries compensation

    Consult with Legal and Business Services (LBS) after a young person reaches 15 years to clarify if the young person has a reasonable claim to pursue criminal injuries compensation or any other potential legal claim. Lodge all requests to LBS through the Sharepoint Request Form page. A young person's LCP should include an adequate amount of approved funds for managing legal issues, such as applications for criminal injuries compensation.

    For more information on what your responsibilities are, refer Chapter 3.3 Legal Rights of children and caseworker responsibilities. 

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    Leaving care planning meetings

    The 11-month care planning cycle applies to leaving care planning and meetings.

    An additional meeting and update to the LCP is required one to three months prior to the young person's 18th birthday. This meeting is to ensure the LCP is up-to-date and accurate. This will be the last chance for you to modify the LCP prior to the young person leaving care. 


    As with care planning meetings, leaving care planning meetings are an opportunity for the young person and their care team to come together to:

    • talk about their best hopes for the young person, presently and in the future
    • raise any concerns they have for the young person 
    • identify existing and/or emerging needs for the young person
    • decide how best to meet these needs
    • align the young person's NDIS plan, if they have one, with the LCP
    • make sure the young person has appropriate supports and resources in place to achieve their goals, and  
    • ensure that everyone's thoughts and opinions are heard and acknowledged, especially the young person. 

    Subject to their level of age and level of understanding, young people must be given the opportunity to participate in LCP. Supported decision making processes must be used where required.

    Young people must be given adequate information in a manner and language they can understand to enable them to participate and can express their wishes and views freely if they wish to do so. This may include organising an interpreter.

    For a young person with disability, this could include the presence of a disability support worker or speech therapist or use of electronic equipment to aid communication. For a young person without disability, this could include suggesting they bring a friend or offer to hold the meeting in a park.

    Consider working with the young person to determine how their views and wishes should be documented in the LCP and in case notes. 

    Viewpoint can assist the young person to identify their leaving care needs, particularly where they don't feel confident or able to articulate their needs. The young person should be encouraged and assisted to use Viewpoint as part of developing their LCP. For more information, please refer to Chapter 3.4 Viewpoint.

    Where a young person is in detention at Banksia Hill Detention Centre (BHDC), work with the Co-located worker on-site at BHDC to facilitate leaving care planning, including an LCP meeting if one is due. For those who have struggled to engage with the Department, this is an opportunity to build a relationship with the young person and to accomplish planning work while it is possible. 

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    Post care support and funding

    Young people under a protection order (special guardianship) (SGO) after turning 15, having been previously on a protection order (time limited) or (until18), qualify for assistance listed under s.99.

    A young person and their special guardians, where an SGO was granted before the young person reached 15 years, may be provided with any social services the CEO considers appropriate having regard to the needs of the child (s.98). 

    For more information, refer to Chapter 3.3 Protection order (special guardianship).

    The Department funds three leaving care services.  You should refer a young person as soon as they reach 15 years, with their consent. Where a young person does not want to be referred to a leaving care service, document this decision and any reasons the young person provided for this decision. The decision should be respected but allow the young person opportunities to be referred at any point throughout their transition to young adulthood. This is particularly important for young people at higher risk, such as a young person who has experienced multiple care arrangements. A young person assessed as experiencing higher risk will have their referral prioritised.

    These services and the areas they accept referrals from are:

    • Wanslea MyPlace - Peel region and Rockingham, south of Safety Bay Road
    •  Mission Australia - Bunbury, Collie, Busselton, Margaret River, Manjimup, Katanning, Gnowangerup and Albany
    • The Salvation Army – Crossroads West - All other areas including Perth metro area

    Leaving care services provide the following supports:

    • Advice and practical support to obtain accommodation, including help to get on waitlists.
    •  Support to access educational and vocational opportunities, including accredited workplace training.
    • Referral to an appropriate AOD service, including community-based and inpatient support.
    •  Individualised support and case management.
    •  A safe space at their drop-in facilities.
    •  Counselling, as well as chaplaincy and advocacy support.
    •  Social and life skills (including driving) training programs.
    •  Creative arts and multimedia activities.
    • Legal services, including advice and support.

    For more information about leaving care services see the Leaving Care Services Referral Form (in related resources).  Referral forms should be sent by email to the corresponding organisation followed by a phone call to discuss the referral and a face-to-face meeting with the young person wherever possible.

    Young people who have left care can seek support from a district office up until their 25th birthday. Young people presenting at a district office should be provided with a priority response, regardless of the request and the office they have attended. The district who previously held case management responsibility for the young person may have information in addition to what is in the young person's LCP, but responsibility for actioning a support request sits with the district the young person contacts.

    The district receiving the request should record all requests for support in an interaction, to document that a young person has sought post care assistance. For full details on the Assist process for recording Post Care Support refer to the following Assist User Guides:

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    Young person’s access to personal material

    When they leave care, all children and young people have a right to a range of personal material held by the Department or a carer during their time in care. You must also notify the young person in writing that they have a right to their personal material, when advising them of their post care rights and entitlements.

    Personal material includes:  

    • birth certificate
    • passport
    • school reports
    • photographs of the young person, and
    • school test results and other material relating to the young person's education (such as awards, certificates, yearbooks, portfolios and artwork)
    • records and personal effects relating to the child's participation in recreational or extra-curricular activities (such as awards, medals, trophies and certificates)
    • the young person's Medicare card and health care card
    • the young person's dental records
    • the young person's immunisation records
    • the young person's Tax File Number
    • documents relating to the young person's financial assets (such as bank account and trust account information and any cards linked to such accounts)
    • the young person's learner's permit, driver's licence and any other identification documents
    • the young person's family tree or genogram
    • gifts, letters and photographs received from the young person's relatives, friends and carers
    • the young person's care arrangement history, or
    • documents or material relating to the young person's religious identity (such as a baptism or confirmation certificate).

    Personal items held by during the young person's period in care must be located and provided to the young person free of charge. 

    Where a young person leaves the CEO's care before they turn 18 years, the decision to release information contained in their Child History Folder should be made based on an assessment of their situation. A young person under the age of 18 years may be provided with the documentation if they have the maturity and capacity to safely manage important original documents. Copies of the folder's contents may be provided to the young person or their parent or guardian, while encouraging the young person to collect the original documents when they turn 18 years. Where copies of documentation are provided to a parent or guardian, you should take all care to ensure the young person's privacy. For example, no Viewpoint material should be provided to anyone except the young person. 

    A young person under the age of 18 years who has an open case should ask for this information from their case manager. If the young person does not have an open case or they have reached 18 years, they can request this information via any district office and receive a priority response. Any person who is 25 years or older, will need to make a request under Freedom of Information (FOI) to request their personal information.

    Details of any documents or copies of documents provided to a young person, their carer or a parent, should be recorded in a case note. 

    When returning a young person's personal material and documentation, be aware that you may be providing them with information about, or triggers to, traumatic events from their childhood.

    Consider how you will manage this sensitively and provide the young person with appropriate support, according to their needs and wishes. This may include encouraging the young person to have a support person with them and providing them with appropriate contact details if they have any follow-up questions. 


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    Accessing leaving care funds

    Before applying for leaving care funds, you should establish:

    1. whether the young person qualifies for leaving care assistance under s. 96 of the Act (see below)
    2. if the young person has funds approved in their LCP, and

    if the young person is still in the CEO's care. 

    The 'Leaving Care Fund' was established to meet the Leaving Care and Post Care needs of young people from the age of 15 until they turn 25 to support young people in their transition to adulthood. The Leaving Care Fund is not means-tested or capped and is not part of a district's allocated budget, but you should consider other forms of funding, including public services, before using it.  In Assist, leaving care funds are labelled as 'Leaving Care – New Legislation'. Submit all requests for funding to the Team Leader for endorsement and to the Assistant District Director or the District Director for approval.

    Where a young person requests financial support after their case has been closed, create a new interaction and Intake to Family Support in Assist. Use the family group from when the young person entered care.

    When considering requests from young care leavers, refer to the following specific sections of the legislation: 

    Section 96

    People who qualify for assistance:

    a person qualifies for assistance if:

    • if the person has left the CEO's care; and
    • the person is under 25 years of age; and
    • the person was, at any time after reaching 15 years:
      • under a protection order (time limited) or (until 18); 
      •  in a Negotiated Placement Agreement (NPA), or
      • was provided with a placement service for a continuous period of at least 6 months.
    Section 98

    Provision of social services:

    The CEO must ensure that a child who leaves the CEO's care is provided with social services that the CEO considers appropriate, having regard to the needs of the child.

    i.e., needs can be identified outside of the young person's LCP and this provision applies to any care leaver, not just young people who qualify under s.96.

    Section 99

    Provision of assistance to obtain accommodation, etc:

    The CEO must ensure that a person who qualifies for assistance is provided with services to assist the person to do any one or more of the following:

    • obtain accommodation
    • undertake education and training
    • obtain employment
    • obtain legal advice
    • access health services
    • access counselling services
    Section 100

    Provision of financial assistance:

    The CEO may provide a person who qualifies for assistance with financial assistance in the form of:

    • a contribution to expenses incurred in obtaining, furnishing and equipping accommodation; or
    • a contribution to expenses incurred by the person living near the place where the person is or will be employed or seeking employment, or undertaking education or training, or
    • a grant to enable the person to meet expenses with his or her education or training
    Section 100A

     Provision of explanation to a child:

    The CEO must ensure that, before a child leaves the CEO's care, the child is provided with a written explanation of the assistance they are entitled to. Where required, this letter must be translated or provided in audio or another format to ensure the young person understands the content.

    For more information on approved expenditure, see the Leaving Care Services and Funding Information Sheet (in related resources). 

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    Additional support

    The Advocate for children in care

    The Advocate for children in care protects and promotes the interests and rights of children and young people in the CEO's care to make sure they have a say in decisions and actions that affect them, and in the services that are provided to them. 

    The Advocate can provide advocacy services to young people leaving care to help them to get their voice heard, resolve issues and have decisions reviewed, and support them in using formal complaints and review processes.  Contact the Advocate by email at advocate@communities.wa.gov.au

    CREATE

    The CREATE Foundation is the peak body representing the voices of all children and young people in care. In addition to advocacy, CREATE offers a range of programs targeted at young people leaving care, such as the CREATE Your Future program and leaving care grants.

    CREATE Your Future is a life skills program designed to assist young people in the transition to independence from care.  More information on these programs is available the CREATE website.  

    Sortli:

    Sortli is a mobile phone app, designed for and by young people, to help them transition from care to independence. It includes a step-by-step guide to navigate some of a young person's challenges, such as finding a place to live, looking after their health, managing money and budgeting, finding a job, understanding their legal rights and to find education and training opportunities. For more information, see the CREATE website. 

    A young person who has left care is entitled to receive a priority response from prescribed state government agencies. For more information, see Chapter 3.4 Rapid Response – Priority access to State Government services

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