Joshua Sade-Inia, 18, spent 15 years in CYF care and said the Government's decision to allow young people to remain in care or return to care up until the age of 21 is a good move. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
A young Northlander who grew up in the care of Child Youth and Family says if no other young person is expected to fend for himself at the age of 17, it shouldn't be any different for those in state care.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has announced as part of an overhaul of care and protection, Cabinet has agreed that young people will no longer have to leave state care at 17, and will be able to remain in care or return to care up until the age of 21, with transition support and advice available up to 25.
Dargaville man Joshua Sade-Inia spent 15 years in the care of Child Youth and Family (CYF) and said the decision to lift the age of care from 17 to 21 was a "really good move".
The 18-year-old said he was lucky to have caregivers who supported him after he turned 17 and could not imagine what would have happened if they decided to no longer care for him.
"Say you're in a family environment and you're a child and you're not in CYF, you have support from your parents until you're independent. In CYF you're basically expected to fend for yourself at the age of 17 with no support. I was lucky because I had a family who supported me but there are so many who don't."
Ms Tolley said the Government could no longer turn its back on children in state care when they turn 17.
"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.
"They deserve the financial, emotional and housing support which will allow them to thrive and go on to lead successful independent lives. Currently, for too many of these vulnerable young people, their life outcomes are dreadful," she said.
Mr Sade-Inia spoke to the Advocate last year, when he was a student at Dargaville High School, about his experience with CYF. He said it he often felt he was treated like a product, not a human.
Mr Sade-Inia, now at the University of Auckland studying a conjoint Bachelor of Law and Commerce, said the overhaul of CYF was a step in the right direction.
"I'm hoping they resolve a lot of issues in this new system because a lot of things were broken. I think they're making a lot of good strides," he said.