Young people leaving care
The transition from life in care to independence can be a time of mixed emotions. It can be both exciting and anxiety-provoking, as there are more responsibilities, and often there's less support around you.
What to expect
Leaving home means more independence and more freedom. It also means more responsibilities. When you leave care as an independent young person you'll be expected to support yourself financially, find your own place to live, and take care of yourself.
Before leaving care, your social worker will start supporting you with this change, working with you to ensure you:
- are able to support yourself financially
- are engaged in education, training or have a job
- have the life skills to live independently (such as being able to cook, budget, clean, shop)
- have the practical items to help you live independently
- have somewhere safe, supportive and secure to live.
Planning the move
Your social worker should help you gather the significant people in your life together to discuss and plan your move. You'll be encouraged to think about your goals or plans for your future and together identify your supports to achieve these goals.
Ensuring that you have suitable accommodation when you leave care is crucial. It's important that when you start thinking about your goals particularly around education, training and employment, that housing options are also considered.
Your social worker can help you find out what other supports are available in your community and show you how to access services that may be useful in the future.
If you're under 18 you can enter into a legally enforceable tenancy agreement if you are, or have been, married or in a civil union.
If you're 16 or 17 and have never been married or in a civil union, you'll need to get approval from the Tenancy Tribunal or a District Court for the tenancy agreement to be legally enforceable.
To find out more, phone the Tenancy Tribunal on 0800 836 262.
Help with housing costs
You'll need money for board or rent, bond, power, phone, food and travel costs. Before being discharged from Child, Youth and Family care your social worker will advise you about applying for the Youth Payment or Young Parent Payment and may assist you with the online application process.
If you're supported by a Youth Service provider, they can pay your board directly to the housing provider, ex-caregiver, family/whanau member or landlord. You'll be supported to explore a number of boarding options, to weigh up the benefits and concerns of each option.
Where can I get advice about renting
Care Café is a network for young people that have experienced the care system in New Zealand. They share advice and tips for young people getting ready to leave foster care and be independent for the first time.
It's been developed with the input of youth who are currently in care and those that have left care. This network has been developed to provide a chance for young people to learn about the care system, connect with other young people with similar experiences and share their views with care providers and policy makers.