There are around 8,000 children and young people (aged 0-17) in Victoria who live in the out-of-home care system (ABS, June 2018). It is an alternative accommodation when they are unable to live with their parents.
12 year old Kylie* shared their experience of moving to residential care (resi) earlier this year, and wants to see the conditions of residential care improved. This is their story.
How long have you lived in residential care for?
I have been in resi for about 9 months and a few days.
How is residential care different to foster care?
In foster care you have at least two adults looking after you and you do not have staff members coming and going. I have workers who accompany me to school and across various activities.
What is a typical day like in residential care?
I go to school and we have activities on weekends. We also get pocket money each week. We can have take-away every second week, but they do not allow us to have McDonalds, KFC or Hungry Jacks because it is not healthy. We are not allowed to have soft drink but on the occasion we do. A lot of the time we only get water or cordial, otherwise we sometimes get soda water.
What do you like about it?
They organised me to do horse riding every second weekend. They also allow me to see my younger sister on most weekends. I get to spend time with staff members. We get pocket money every week and because I am 12 I get 12 dollars a week and I have the chance to do ten dollars’ worth of chores.
I get my own room, and we receive a clothes allowance every season worth 300 dollars.
What don’t you like about residential care?
I dislike that they keep moving all the staff members. I also dislike that they cannot hand your pocket money to you they have to hold onto it.
You are only allowed to buy one sugary treat with our money, which I guess is good to because they are trying to keep us healthy, so we are not allowed to have too much junk food.
What changes would you like to see in the system?
I hate when they move the staff members, because I get a good relationship with them and then they leave. They have recently moved our house coordinator.
I had a really good relationship with her. She was really upset when she left and so was I. I arranged a party for her so that I could spend some time with her. Now they have moved two other staff.
We had two workers split across their shifts until they could find someone to do it permanently because we had someone leave a couple of weeks after I moved there. As of October this year they found someone else to fill it.
What are the workers like?
Most of the workers are actually pretty good. I have had disagreements with them. But lately, I have been getting along with them which is good for me to have a good relationship with the staff members because I have to see them all the time.
How has your life changed since you moved?
I have been eating healthier and they have been teaching us how to become an adult. I do not get hurt by the workers in residential care like I did with my parents.
What is life at school like? Is it a different experience to other students?
I sometimes enjoy school. I do not find that it is that different except for the fact that you have a different person take you to school a lot of the time.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to do horse riding, I do hip hop every Wednesday and I like annoying my school wellbeing person (but am very thankful that she exists!).
Do you still get to spend time with your sisters?
I spend time with my younger sister because she lives with my aunty. Over the holidays I go for sleepovers for a few days with them.
What is it like to live with other resi kids?
Lately, I have enjoyed living with the other resi kid because we have not had an argument for at least 3 months. I enjoy it when she plays her music because we dance together. And sometimes we have activities together. She and I will go out for lunch together.
She is a bit older than me and she has a phone so she is on it a lot.
What job would you like to have when you grow up?
I would like to be a residential-care worker because I love working with kids.
Kylie* is a 12 year old student from regional Victoria who lives in the out-of-home-care system.
*For privacy and safety, all personal information has been de-personalised.
Find out more about the out-of-home care system: