At 17, your average Kiwi teen will be in their last years of high school, focused on exams, maybe dreaming of their school ball and what to do with the rest of their lives. But for 300 foster children each year who "age out" of care at 17, concerns centre more on finding a place to live and learning how to fend for themselves.

One Auckland teenager has been in the care of Child Youth and Family for most of her life - she's been in so many foster placements she's lost count. In the two years since the 18-year-old aged out, she's also been in four different homes. The most recent one she left virtually empty-handed after her former landlord refused to give her belongings back over one week's unpaid rent.

The Foster Hope charity hopes to help by providing "flat packs" with items that many first-time flatters would be given by their parents.

Though it wasn't this teen's first flat, she was grateful to receive the large blue bin filled with towels, a chopping board, plates, a cup, a duvet, washing powder and toiletries.


"Once I moved out of my old house I didn't have anything, only a bag of clothes," she said. "But knowing I had stuff already here, that I didn't have to go asking people if I could use this or that, because they had provided it already ... it was helpful."

Foster Hope chairwoman Louise Allnutt said it was about giving youth a chance as they set up new homes and adapted to independence.

"It was a case of putting packs together as you would with your own children one day," she said.

"These kids just need a chance, it's really hard at 17, they are too old to be in the system but too young to have rights."

At 17 you can't hold a lease, have a credit card or bank loan, put your name on the power bill or even vote. Youth allowances of up to $175.10 after tax were available, as well as a $47 accommodation supplement, but once board and expenses were paid, often there was little left for things like transport and groceries.

So far Foster Hope has put together more than 20 flat packs and offered them to Auckland-based youth support organisations Dingwall Trust and Youth Horizons. Ms Allnutt hoped the organisation would be able to provide up to 150 a year.

Dingwall Trust manager, Care to Independence, Sarah Ashton was grateful for the charity's support.

"It provides the youth with the goods, but also a message that there are people who do care."

Youth Horizons operations manager, Youth Service and Transitions, Rewi Chaplow said it was a great way to help.

"It's the simple things they often go without, so getting gifts is a real morale boost."

Inside a flat pack

• Towels
• Laundry powder
• Soap
• Cleaning products
• Bedding
• Kitchen utensils
• Cutlery and crockery
Who it could help
Up to 150 young adults moving from care to independent living each year
To help, go to: