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 here.

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Leaving care

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

A “protection order” is an order made by a court which says that the Department of Communities has 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 protection order for that young person. This page has information about the rights of children under a formal protection 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 here! 

Leaving care plans

When you turn 15, you, your caseworker and anyone else who plays a significant role in your care, will start thinking about your future after you have left care. Together you will make changes to your Care Plan and develop another plan which is called a Leaving Care Plan.

The plan must identify your individual needs  in preparing to leave care and outline the steps to meet them. It will also include ways that you will be supported after you have left care. When you leave care, you may need help finding a place to live, finding a job, and other things so that you can live independently. Your plan can include things like: 

  • health, 
  • education and employment, 
  • housing and accommodation, 
  • family and social relationships, 
  • life skills development,
  • financial supports, 
  • identity and culture, 
  • legal and financial matters, and 
  • support networks.

Your plan will stay in place either until you turn 25, or the Department of Communities decides that you have achieved the goals set out in your Leaving Care Plan and your long-term living plans are sustainable (whichever comes first). It should be reviewed regularly (at least every twelve months) and can change depending your situation and needs. 

It is important that you are asked about your goals when leaving care, and that you are part of making your Leaving Care Plan. 

If you aren’t happy with your plan, or you if you have any questions about it, it’s really important that you talk with your case worker. If you have any questions about your rights, you can contact us for free and confidential advice. 

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

Just because you have left out-of-home care doesn’t mean that you are on your own. The law says that if you were in care at any time after you turned 15, you must be given help after you leave care, until you turn 25. 

This is sometimes called ‘aftercare assistance’.  

When deciding what sort of help you need, the Department should think about your wellbeing and individual needs. This might include: 

  • financial assistance, including regular allowances and one-off payments 
  • help with finding 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
  • access to other social services.

One type of 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  

There is other help out there for young people who are leaving care. There are also other organisations that  help young people leaving care, including Mission Australia, Wanslea Family Services and the Salvation Army.

If you are unsure about what help you can get, we encourage you to speak with your caseworker. 

Criminal injuries compensation

Many children and young people in OOHC have been victims of a violent crime prior to their entry into care. This might include family violence, child abuse or sexual abuse. 

If you have been harmed by a crime, you could be eligible for criminal injuries compensation. You can read more about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme here: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-justice/commissioner-victims-of-crime/criminal-injuries-compensation-victims-of-crime.  

You can also contact us if you would like some advice about this. 

Can I access my care records?

You have a right to any personal materials that are held by the Department of Communities when you leave care. This includes things like your birth certificate, passport, school reports and photographs. You also have a right to access any documents held by the Department of Communities about you, including your care records.

If you need help getting hold of your records, we encourage you to contact us here.  

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