Why The State Needs To Support Young People Until They’re 21


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We’ve had lots of people ask why Lifewise is asking the Government to raise the age of leaving state care to 21, and not just 18.

18 is when young people can vote, sign a lease, and are considered adults under the law. So why are we asking for young people to be supported until they’re 21? Here are four reasons why:

  1. Giving more state support to young people now is better for everyone in the long-term

For each year of extra support given, the government would save  more than $700,000 per year due to reduced costs to the health, justice and welfare system.

  1. Most young Kiwis leave home in their mid-20s

The average Kiwi now leaves home when they’re 23 and a half. Becoming an independent adult is a challenge at the best of times, but it’s that much harder when you’ve had a disrupted childhood, nowhere to live, and no parental role models. Raising the age to 21 would give young people in state care the right to have the same support as every other Kiwi.

  1. Some young people may need additional support to catch up with their peers

Many young people in state care have experienced abuse and neglect. It’s therefore absolutely crucial that they have support and a home-base as they find their feet. For young people who have experienced particularly severe abuse, they may need a bit more support.

  1. Raising the age for support to 21 doesn’t mean young people have to stay in care if they don’t want to

We are asking for state care to be available for young people until they turn 21 if they want it. If young people no longer want to stay in state care, they should have the right to find an arrangement that suits their needs.

Please sign the petition to show your support and that #WeDontStopCaring when our kids turn 17: www.actionstation.org.nz/wedonstopcaring 

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This petition is a collaboration between Lifewise, Youthline, Dingwall Trust, Child Poverty Action Group, Wesley Community Action, Christchurch Methodist Mission and Action Station.

– See more at: http://blog.bigsleepout.org.nz/why-give-young-people-support-until-theyre-21/#sthash.UxftuqRv.dpuf


  1. Could any New Zealander with any sense of empathy or heart really question this? It seems to obvious to me.

    Where has the love gone New Zealand?

    We shouldn’t even need such a petition. Young people in state care should receive a good solid level of care, love and support.

    • Yes I agree that children and young people in state care deserve a good, healthy, caring and stable home that for some extends beyond the age of 18.

      The problem today facing our young people is that they are victims of poor conditioning. They spend some of their lives in bad environments and often their behaviour is irreversible once they picked up in the system. Even those who have been in the system are still vulnerable to maltreatment by their caregivers. This leads to them losing face with reality and becoming lost and oppressed. Some even acting out and go down the wrong path.

      Lara is right, “Young people in state care should receive a good solid level of care, love and support.” The system should provide young people with a good stable home, with honest, caring and loving caregivers. Not only that but they require support beyond that, they need constant encouragement to motivate, so they can function accordingly in society.

      But this is where the current system fails: The system cuts the purse strings when the person turns 18. That’s it, minimal support from state not just financially, but mentally, socially. They are forced out into the world to fend for themselves, left with either finding jobs, studying, living off the unemployment benefit.
      What many people don’t realise is that a young people from unstable environment is more likely to feel inadequate and oppressed which may result in higher levels of mental disorders or worse case scenario suicide or incarceration.

  2. The state should be helping young ones in need until they are 20 and I agree with your article and commend you for speaking out about a very important issue. Maybe the suicide rates will decrease if we take better care of those in need – no matter what their age.

    Older and younger vets also need far more care and compassion than we are offering them – seniors and homeless as well.

    The drinking age should also be raised to 20 or 21 and whomever does not support that is an non compassionate idiot. This country and its laws regarding alcohol and marijuana need some massive revision. There are way too many young people binge drinking and becoming alcoholics and they should not be allowed to drink at such a young age.

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