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The Next Step

by PeakCare Qld on 19th March 2015

Home -> Articles -> 2015 -> March -> The Next Step

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Transitioning Young People to Independence is In the Spotlight

For so many years those of us in the child protection system have been asking young people at the age of 18 years to take the next step into adulthood, often totally independent and most often without a continuum of care to assist this transition to adulthood offered to most of our young people who grow up in their family homes. We are all well aware both through research and anecdotal evidence that young people are remaining at home longer than ever before. Many of the young people who do live away from home continue to enjoy the benefits of various supports including financial and emotional. This opportunity has not been afforded young people in the statutory care system in their transition to adulthood.

The multiple obstacles faced by young people transitioning to independence from care have been raised extensively in recent years. This is particularly so in light of their limited options by comparison to those young people living with parents or carers who remain on board as key supports for extended periods; often life times. This reality was acknowledged in the Carmody Report: Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection.

In a major step forward in Queensland there is now a responsive program of service delivery based on this feedback and the direct advice and input from young people with a care experience, front line practitioners, sector leaders and policy makers. Opening its doors this week, Next Step After Care offers services in eight regional locations across Queensland. Last week we spoke of the Strengthening Families Protecting Children Framework for Practice being rolled out, this week yet another recommendation of the Carmody report is being actualised.

Of significant note is the collaboration of services joining together to ensure enhanced service delivery and opportunities for young people. The Next Step After Care services, named by young people consulted in the design and implementation of this model, will aim to provide young people multiple ways of accessing support as and when they need it, regardless of where they live in Queensland.

Adam McMurray, Operations Manager, Next Step After Care Services considers Life Without Barriers to have been fortunate to be part of many young people’s transitions to independence through their Transition From Care and Youth programs: “The Next Step service is an amazing opportunity to assist and provide support to young people as they move into this next chapter in their young adult lives.”

A young person’s participation in receiving support will be voluntary and services will respond to young people who:

  • need ongoing connections and support extending from their time in care, or
  • have become disconnected from services or who choose not to seek support on leaving care and return at a later time seeking assistance.

These new services, funded by the Queensland Government, mark the first time that targeted post-care support will be available for all young people leaving care up to the age of 21 years who need assistance. The aim is to improve life opportunities and outcomes for young people as they transition to being independent young adults in our communities. Whilst it is recognised that not all young people transitioning to independence will require ongoing support, it is intended that this support be made available to all young people if and when they need it.

Funding of $9.741million over three years will be provided to the collaborative group providing this service: Life Without Barriers, UnitingCare Community, CREATE Foundation, Integrated Family and Youth Services, South Burnett CTC and Youth Empowered Toward Independence. Rosemary Jenkinson, Principal Program Officer, Client Service and Practice Reform, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services has been extensively involved in the program design and development. Her enthusiasm for this innovation is clear:

“This is an exciting time - for the first time in Queensland, young people leaving care will receive timely support when and as they need it. Next Step services will boost the chances of a young person leaving care to enjoy a fulfilled life.”

This initiative comprises two service types: Next Step Connections - a state-wide After Care connections program delivered by Life Without Barriers in partnership with UnitingCare Community and the CREATE Foundation to ensure timely access for young people to relevant support and Next Step Individual support in regions across the state delivered by the partnering agencies.

The new connections service will provide multiple access points to After Care support for young people. These access channels will enable young people to obtain support through:

  • Self-service – online engagement via social media channels, the Sortli app, and a website developed by and for young people that provides information and links to access channels and regional support services state-wide, and,
  • Check-in and simple intervention – provides an opportunity for young people to access personalised support if they wish to address a single need or to link them to tailored individual support should they require it.

Timely access to support can be provided through regular contact from CREATE via phone outreach to young people to check on their progress and provide immediate advice, referrals and information through the all-hours 1800 phone line, with additional contact via email and SMS by UnitingCare Community. This phone line is expected to be operational by 01 April 2015.

Next Step individual support services will help young people develop practical life skills, support them with gaining skills and employment, promote the development of key relationships and networks and assist young people with accommodation, housing, health and income support matters. Services will work with a range of mainstream partners as well as local service providers to deliver the right mix of individualised support for each young person.

Brokerage through the individual support services may be used to:

  • engage third-party providers to provide direct support to young people to ensure they receive direct support from a service of their choice or in their geographical location, or
  • purchase goods and services to assist young people in achieving their independent living goals, such as paying fees for training courses.

Referrals to Next Step services will come from young people seeking support and the services and referral pathways will be promoted directly to young people. In addition, referrals can be made by staff of government agencies, local councils, health providers or partner agencies and other non-government service providers.

Lucas Moore, Queensland CREATE Foundation’s Coordinator celebrates their role in this innovation. He spoke about the involvement of young people in all stages of the planning and development and highlighted that young people will continue to be present throughout the implementation and evaluation stages. Their voices will continue to be heard. CREATE will play a vital role in the information sharing and promotion of this opportunity for young people as well as playing a lead role in social media engagement and promotion of the 1800 assistance number. Having the opportunity to follow up with young people post their care experience is profound for CREATE. Then to have the available resources to offer supports required is equally so: “It’s great that we can keep in touch with young people, hear their needs and then through the linkages offered with this partnership refer them when required to support options at Life Without Barriers and all the other organisations involved.”

After years of advocacy the voices of young people are being heard. Next Step After Care stands as a testament to that. They are joining together with government and non-government partners to ensure improved outcomes for children and young people in the child protection system transitioning to independence. This is indeed an exciting time in Queensland’s Child Protection journey. PeakCare congratulates all involved in this innovation. We’re looking forward to hearing more of this state wide program of service delivery to young people transitioning from care to independence.

While maintaining our position that a level of support should be made available to young people until 25 years of age, PeakCare fully acknowledges this initiative as a significant step in the right direction. We look forward to discovering the lessons to be learned from a rigorous evaluation of the services.

We’d love to hear your views! Please enter your comments on the blog post by clicking on the opening title and entering your comments in the box below, or, email Lorraine Durpree.

Next Step After Care Brochure – Where can the Next Step take you?

Contact Details for Next Step After Care: After Care connections team - 1800 NEXTSTEP (available after 01 April 2015)

Individual support services:

North Coast Region Integrated Family and Youth Services (IFYS) on 07 5438 3000 or

South Burnett South Burnett CTC on 07 4162 7788 or

Far North Queensland Youth Empowered Towards Independence [YETI] on 07 4051 4927 or

North Queensland Life Without Barriers on 07 4755 7400 or

Central Queensland [excl South Burnett] Life Without Barriers on 07 4921 1475 or

Brisbane Life Without Barriers on 07 3633 1500 or

South West Life Without Barriers on 07 3432 7800 or

South East Life Without Barriers on 07 3442 6600 or

Lorraine Dupree
Projects Manager - Policy, Practice and Service Development
PeakCare Queensland