Leaving care

It’s really important to know that you have rights when you leave out-of-home care. You can also get support and help to make sure you can live safely and independently. 

If you are in out-of-home care (or foster care) and you have any questions about your rights or leaving care, please contact us for free and confidential advice. 

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Leaving care

Young people usually leave care when their care order has ended. This may be because they have turned 18, or because their care has been transferred from the Department of Health and Human Services to someone else, such as a relative. 

A “care order” is an order made by a court which says that the Department of Health and Human Services have parental responsibility for you. This means that they need to decide where you will live, and you may live with a foster carer. 

When your care order expires, you don’t have to move out of where you are currently living if your carer is happy for you to stay there. However, it’s important that you know what your rights are! 

It’s also important to know that there are different kinds of care. A young person might be looked after by a relative or a carer, but there might not be a formal care order for that young person. This page has information about the rights of children under a formal care order. We know it can be confusing! If you are a young person in care, and you aren’t sure about your rights, please contact us

Care and Transition Plans

When you turn 15, you and your care team will start thinking about your future after you have left have left care. Your care team includes your case manager, carers, family and anyone else who plays a significant role in caring for you. Together, you should develop a care and transition plan.  

This plan makes sure that you have somewhere to live and other support once you leave care. When you leave care, you may need help with finding a place to live, finding a job, accessing healthcare, and other things so that you can live independently.  

At least six months before you leave care, you should have a final transition plan with details about your:  

  • accommodation 
  • education or employment  
  • income  
  • access to health services, including mental health services.

Your care and transition plan might also include strategies to prepare you to live on your own, including: 

  • social skills 
  • budgeting and managing money  
  • managing family and other relationships 
  • living with people and resolving conflict 
  • cooking, housekeeping and self-care 
  • understanding the rights and responsibilities of an adult.

Your plan should be reviewed regularly (at least every six months) and can change depending your situation and needs.

It is important that you are part of the planning process for when you leave care, so that it gives you the best support for your future.

If you have questions about your plan, or if you don’t think it gives you the support you need, it’s really important to talk with your case worker. It’s also a good idea to talk to your case worker about your goals, and the sort of life you want when you leave care, so that you can get the best support for your situation. 

What happens when I leave out-of-home care?

Just because you have left out-of-home care, it doesn’t mean that you are on your own. The law says that where you are leaving care (and you were in care when you turned 16) you must be given help to transition to independent living, until you turn 21. This help might include: 

  • being given information about resources and services 
  • financial assistance, including regular allowances and one-off payments
  • help with finding and setting up somewhere to live 
  • help with organising education and training and finding a job 
  • help with getting legal advice and accessing health services 
  • counselling and support.

One type of financial support is the Transition to Independent Living Allowance. Young people between 15 and 25 who leave out-of-home care and are transitioning to independent living may be eligible for this one off payment of up to $1500 for living expenses such as furniture, appliances, counselling, medical expenses or education. There are some requirements for accessing this payment, which you can read more about here: Transition to Independent Living Allowance | Department of Social Services, Australian Government.

You should also be put in contact with Better Futures as part of your plan to leave care. Better Futures can help you with things like housing, health, education, employment and cultural support, both before and after you have left care. To read more about this program, click here: https://providers.dffh.vic.gov.au/better-futures.

If you need help with housing after leaving care, you can also get support from the Home Stretch program. You can read more about Home Stretch here: https://providers.dffh.vic.gov.au/home-stretch.

There are many other sorts of help available if you are leaving or have left care. If you are unsure about these, we encourage you to speak with your caseworker. 

Victims’ compensation

Many children and young people in OOHC have been victims of a violent crime before they were placed in care. This might include family violence, child abuse or sexual abuse. 

If you have been harmed by a crime, you could be eligible for victim’s compensation. You can read more about the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) here: https://www.victimsofcrime.vic.gov.au/going-to-court/financial-assistance-and-compensation-for-victims-of-crime.

You can also contact us for advice about victims compensation. 

Can I access my care records?

If you lived in out-of-home care as a child or young person, you can request a copy of your care records10 by filling out this form: https://www.dffh.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/202110/Application%20Form%20-%20CLRS.pdf 

You can email the completed form to [email protected]. 

For more information on accessing your records see this page: https://www.dffh.vic.gov.au/making-freedom-information-request.

If you need help getting your care records, you can contact us here. 

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