Giving young people leaving care a more gradual and supported transition to independent living.
Through Home Stretch you can stay with your kinship or foster carer until you turn 21 years of age – your carer would need to agree. Your carer can get an allowance to help support you.
If you are moving from care to independent living, you can get an allowance to help you with housing costs like rent and bills. This payment will go to an agency who will work with you to support your living arrangements.
Through Home Stretch you will be eligible for a Better Futures case worker support, information and advice and flexible funding.
Home Stretch rolled out across Victoria in late 2019 and in 2020, the Victorian State Budget committed $68.7 million over four years and ongoing funding to make Home Stretch universal.
This investment now means from 1 January 2021, all (see Note below this section) young people turning 18 years of age and due to leave care will be able to remain with their foster carer or kinship carer supported by an allowance, case work and flexible funding, or for those leaving residential care, to transition to other housing options (for example, private rental) supported by an allowance, case work and flexible funding.
From 1 July 2021, all young people from 16 years of age and due to leave care will be eligible for Home Stretch support until their 21st birthday.
Note: Compass remains the primary leaving care option in COMPASS locations (Greater Bendigo, North East Melbourne area, Hume Moreland area, Brimbank/Melton and Western Melbourne areas) until 31 March 2021.
To be eligible for Home Stretch, a young person must be:
- Nearing their 18th birthday (from July 2021 young people are eligible when they are between the ages of 16 years (or immediately prior) and nearing their 18th birthday)
- In an active out-of-home care placement
- On a Care by Secretary Order, a Long-Term Care Order or a Family Reunification Order
- Engaged or demonstrate a willingness to engage with a Better Futures worker and work towards achievement of goals for independence
- Referred to and accepted by Better Futures on the CRIS/CRISSP system.
Home Stretch arrangements start after a young person’s child protection order expires.
A referral to Home Stretch will form part of care team discussions when a young person turns 15.5 years of age.
Young people will be referred to Home Stretch by their Case Manager (DHHS Child Protection or contracted) and a Better Futures worker. A young person (and carer where relevant) must consent to the referral.
Better Futures workers will support young people to prepare for independence, with each young person's goals based on their individual needs, aspirations and talents.
Child Protection retains statutory case management responsibility whilst a young person is on a Child Protection order.
Once Child Protection involvement ceases for the final time, the Better Futures worker will become the key point of contact for them.
For young people in home based care, a care allowance will be paid to carers through the existing Department of Health and Human Services Care Allowance payment system.
For young people transitioning to independent living the Better Futures worker will broker the Home Stretch accommodation allowance to support them to access independent or semi-independent community-based housing options, including through the private rental market.
Flexible funding (brokerage)
Flexible funding is available to facilitate the young person's goals for independence including to support access to education, employment and health and wellbeing supports.
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.
To facilitate the implementation and operations of Home Stretch, practice advice have been developed:
- Home Stretch eligibility, application and approval - practice advice (word)
- Home Stretch allowance (Independent Accommodation) - practice advice (word)
- Home Stretch allowance (Home Based Care) - practice advice (word)
For more information, see
- Home Stretch factsheet (word)
- Home Stretch questions and answers for carers (word)
- Leaving care on our Services website.