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State care age limit rises to 21

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4 days ago

Young people will be allowed to remain in state care up until the age of 21, rather than 17, the government has announced.

Advice and support will also be available until age 25 as part of changes to the Child, Youth and Family protection system.

"As the guardian of young people in care we can no longer turn our back on then when they turn 17, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said on Wednesday.

"No responsible parent would do that. Given that many have suffered significant trauma, some of these young adults are not ready to lead independent lives."

About 500 left state care each year, but with the raised aged between 30 and 50 per cent may choose to remain.

Both Labour and the Green Party have backed the decision.

"This announcement will give young people the option to return for assistance of support at the age they need it," Labour's children's spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said.

"I hope this announcement sets the bar for another move we have long advocated for - a lift in the age of the youth court's jurisdiction to 18."

Green Party social development spokeswoman Jan Logie said the promise had to be backed up with enough resources.

"I have heard many concerns from families and people in the sector about how this will be implemented, and whether it will (be) properly resourced," she said.

"The real test for these reforms will come at budget time when we will see whether the government is willing to commit the money to make them work."

Ms Tolley said the change would cost "millions" and the government is in the process of addressing that now.

"Overseas where this has happened, for every dollar we spend at that early stage we save $2 later on," Ms Tolley told TV3's Paul Henry programme.

From next year the age of state care will rise to 18 as part of the government's CYF overhaul, which includes replacing it with a Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

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