Accommodation options for rangatahi leaving care

Published: November 26, 2021

Finding appropriate and stable accommodation for young people leaving care can be difficult. This literature review summarises what other jurisdictions are doing, and synthesises the strengths and challenges encountered.

Background

Oranga Tamariki has been running a Transitions Support Service (TSS) for young people moving away from the care system into independent adulthood since July 2019. One of the objectives of TSS is that more young people have safe and stable living arrangements.

To support eligible rangatahi to remain in a stable caregiving arrangement, Entitlement to Remain or Return (ETRR) was implemented from July 2019. Under ETRR, rangatahi who have been in care can remain, or return to, living with a caregiver from the age of 18 until they turn 21. However, take-up of ETRR has been lower than expected.

This literature review was commissioned to help us better understand how other countries support their young people, including those who need help with accommodation. It also considered reasons for the low uptake for ETRR.

The review draws on published literature and website searches from specific jurisdictions.

Key findings

The review found some New Zealand-specific reasons that may have influenced the low take-up of ETRR, for example:

  • ETRR is a relatively new initiative and time is needed to build awareness. In the UK, ETRR-type support has been in place since 2016 and awareness has built over that time
  • whānau do not always fit the eligibility criteria for ETRR, despite many rangatahi Māori in the group of young people transitioning from care seeking to return to whānau
  • many young people need to leave their carers to study or for employment, particularly when carers are based in rural districts or in smaller urban centres.

Opportunities for Oranga Tamariki to improve support for rangatahi were identified, including:

  • working with other government agencies on options for supported accommodation for rangatahi transitioning out of care
  • extending the eligibility criteria of ETRR care in recognition of the importance of returning to whānau
  • training and support for caregivers to meet the needs of whānau to whom young people are returning
  • increasing the diversity of options for accommodation to meet the breadth of needs of young people.
  • exploring options for young people who may need to move for education, training or employment, including accommodation during semester breaks
  • exploring accommodation options that meet the intensity and types of support to suit young people’s needs, such as young people with disabilities who will need ongoing support, or those whose situation prevents them from taking up ETRR.

Other options for rangatahi Māori, such as whānau-based housing support models that include transition support embedded in Mātauranga Māori, and that could incorporate social, educational, health and/or employment support, were also identified.

Next steps

The TSS will continue working across government to identify opportunities to increase housing options for rangatahi transitioning from care or custody and to advocate for their access to stable accommodation.