Supporting young people early in their transition from care.
Better Futures supports young people who are making the transition from care to adulthood until they reach the age of 21. The program enables young people to have an active voice in their transition planning and provides individualised supports both in-care and post-care across a range of life areas including housing, health and wellbeing, education, employment, and community and cultural connections.
Better Futures includes:
- Case work support
- Information and advice
- Access to flexible funding.
Better Futures was previously known as Leaving Care Support Services, post care support, information and referral, Springboard, Aboriginal leaving care support services, and mentoring.
Home Stretch support for young people leaving care
Home Stretch, delivered by Better Futures, is a ground-breaking initiative which helps every Victorian young person in care with support to transition to adulthood and a place to call home until they reach the age of 21.
As of 1 January 2021, Home Stretch is universal for young care leavers in Victoria. From 1 July 2021, young people subject to permanent care orders will be eligible for Home Stretch support from their 18th birthday.
For more information, visit Home Stretch.
Community Connections is a key service offer of the Better Futures model that aims to build supportive networks, pathways, and opportunities for young people within their communities.
Community Connectors give young people opportunities to join outings and activities to help connect them to their community.
Young people are connected to job and education opportunities to help them work towards their personal and professional goals. They can also be paired with volunteer mentors from the community to provide them with advice on achieving their life goals and aspirations.
Community Connectors do not provide case work but play a key role in the young person’s Better Futures care team along with their Better Futures worker or the young person’s case manager if the young person is in care.
To be eligible for a referral to Better Futures, a young person must be:
- 15 years and 9 months, be in out-of-home care on a Care by Secretary Order, a Long-Term Care Order or a Family Reunification Order, or
- be subject to a permanent care order and residing with their permanent carer.
Young people are eligible for support from Better Futures until they reach the age of 21 years.
Child Protection case managers and contracted case managers/Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care (ACAC) case managers refer young people to Better Futures.
A referral pathway for young people subject to permanent care orders to Better Futures is via Permanent Care and Adoptive Families or the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
The Better Futures worker engages proactively with the young person and/or their care team and assists the young person’s transition to adulthood up until the age of 21 years.
Better Futures workers provide a secondary consultation to a young person’s care team – lending expertise to the transition planning process; identifying goals and actions for inclusion in the 15+ Care and Transition Plan.
Better Futures workers do not assume lead responsibility for case work support while the young person is subject to a statutory order – support gradually increases as young person prepared to transition – 6 months prior.
In limited circumstances the Better Futures worker will provide direct support to young person in care.
Better Futures workers will have access to flexible funding to support achievement of goals that directly relate to transition.
Better Futures workers provide case work support to a young person up to 21 years of age.
Flexible levels of support
Depending on the young person’s circumstances, they may receive high, medium, or low levels of support, or be placed on active hold (quick check in). The capacity of the Better Futures provider also determines the level of support available to the young person.
Flexible funding (brokerage)
Through the Better Futures worker, the young person will have access to flexible funding to support their goals for independence.
These funds do not replace other discretionary funding, such as the Commonwealth Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA).
Melbourne City Mission administers the TILA program in Victoria. The Better Futures Worker can help apply for TILA.
To facilitate the implementation and operations of Better Futures practice advice have been developed:
- Better Futures eligibility and referral
- Better Futures allocation and prioritisation
- Better Futures levels of support
- Better Futures flexible funding
- Better Futures roles and responsibilities
- Better Futures Performance and Reporting
- Community Connections Practice Advice
Please note as 1 July 2021, Better Futures is available to young people subject to permanent care orders from 15 years and 9 months and Home Stretch is available to young people subject to permanent care orders from 18 years of age.
Transitions from Care Youth Expert Advisory Group (YEAG)
The Youth Expert Advisory Group (YEAG) ensures the voice and expertise of young people with lived experience inform the service design, implementation, and evaluation of the Better Futures and Home Stretch initiatives.
Young people aged 18-25 with care experience provide advice, feedback and recommendations to government and the community services sector to inform Better Futures policy and practice.
For more information visit the Transitions from Care Youth Expert Advisory Group webpage.
Better Futures (Advantaged Thinking) Practice Framework
Better Futures is supported by the Advantaged Thinking theoretical approach.
Advantaged Thinking is based on the work of Colin Falconer from the Foyer Federation in the United Kingdom and is used in a variety of settings across Australia, including Victoria's Education First Youth Foyers.
We have worked alongside the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) to develop a Better Futures (Advantaged Thinking) Practice Framework, which guides workers to work in an 'Advantaged Thinking way', engaging with young people using a strengths-based approach, recognising and building their talents and aspirations, as well as assisting them to overcome challenges.
See the video of Colin Falconer's presentation Open Talent at TEDx.
For more information, see:
- Better Futures factsheet for providers (word)
- Providers guide for Better Future funding reform (word)
- Better Futures Flexible Funding Request form (word)
- Better Futures providers delivering case work support (Word)
- Better Futures referral checklist for Better Futures providers (Word)
Please note as 1 July 2021, Better Futures is available to young people subject to permanent care orders from 15 years and 9 months and Home Stretch is available to young people subject to permanent care orders from 18 years of age. Updated resources will be released shortly to reflect these changes.