Yfoundations has told the special inquiry of the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People that putting vulnerable homeless children and young people into ‘Alternative Care Arrangements’ like hotels, motels, caravan parks and serviced apartments, often in isolated and unsuitable locations, produce terrible outcomes, can cause lasting harm and are extremely expensive.
Yfoundations CEO Trish Connolly said:
“The Government is spending a staggering amount of money on a policy which seems to do more harm than good. The funds spent on ACAs would be better spent on other more long-term forms of out-of-home care for children and young people.”
“These exorbitantly expensive arrangements are too often placing children and young people in dirty, old and unsafe accommodation with limited access to wifi (essential for accessing work, government services and study), outdoor space and social interaction.”
In its submission to the Inquiry into ACAs, Yfoundations says that while they are meant to be emergency, temporary solutions, children and young people can be placed in unsuitable locations for over a year:
“Children and young people often have no clue how long they will be in the ACA or where they will go to next. They are told to take it “day by day” and keep their bags packed so that they can move at short notice if need be. Young people told us stories of being evicted at short notice, for various reasons, including when accommodation was being renovated or fumigated.”
The submission was based on firsthand evidence from young people, who told horror stories of their time in ACAs, some were as young as 14 at the time. Yfoundations makes a range of recommendations in its submission, including that the NSW Government invest in a range of supported accommodation options, such as medium-term housing, transitional housing, and transitional housing plus ‘foyer’ models, to reduce its reliance on ACAs.
“The overwhelming response to the consultation clearly showed that the voices and experiences of children and young people are not being taken into consideration when these alternative care arrangements are put in place,” said Trish Connolly. “Young people are being asked to live through trauma and put their lives on pause until they can finally get settled and make a positive change.”
“ACAs were always meant to be an emergency measure until a placement could be arranged, and an option of last resort. However, they are increasingly being used for extended periods of time due to a lack of funding for specialist homelessness services.”
“The exorbitant amounts being spent on unsuitable ACA’s would be much better spent on funding real housing support,” concludes Trish Connolly.
For over 40 years, Yfoundations has served as the NSW peak body advocating for children and young people at risk of and experiencing homelessness, and the services that support them. Our members and board comprise highly experienced youth specialist homelessness services (SHS) providers who have direct knowledge of and experience with the issues children and young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness face. We are also the only peak body representing this cohort nationally.
Carolin Wenzel 0417 668 957
Trish Connolly, CEO 0425 228 758