Improving Mental Health outcomes in Out of Home Care

6th December 2019

Young people living in the Out of Home Care (OoHC) system are over-represented in mental health statistics and are some of the most at-risk people in our community. AV is working to bring forward more tailored care and responsive systems to these under-served young people.

Children in OoHC can have a complex range of behaviours related to past trauma. 35% of children in OoHC will suffer from poor mental health, and the prevalence of suicidal ideation is much higher than in the general population.

Earlier this year AV made a submission to the Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health with regard to OoHC. This made recommendations for a blended approach to mental health support and OoHC care. The Homestretch Campaign jointly led by AV, also seeks to extend the leaving age of those in OoHC from 18 to 21, because it is in those final years of young adulthood that emotionally burdened and unsupported youth can most easily stumble.

As well our advocating for systemic change, AV operates eight residential homes specifically tailored to therapeutic care across the state. These homes have the addition of a dedicated therapeutic specialist to work with staff, conduct assessments and offer therapeutic planning for each young person placed. All staff in the houses complete additional training in therapeutic care. AV’s foster carers receive support from our professional staff (and some can access therapeutic foster care programs), but there is currently no special access for Victorian foster carers to mental health services that would support the young people in their care.

Services must be re-orientated toward an integrated approach. We need accessible, appropriate care that meets the unique needs and challenges experienced by our vulnerable children, young people, and their families (including, but not limited to, those in OoHC).

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