Simon Collins has been out talking with teenagers affected by the new welfare rules which pay most of their benefit as in-kind assistance. It would appear there are a few hitches with getting the balance right but some good stories about the difference the new service providers are making. These are the people contracted to work alongside the teenagers. These are the 'mentors' that ACT always thought would be at the heart of any successful reform. And they are put with the most important cases first - the young beneficiaries.
Whereas the title of Collins' report has negative connotations - Teen welfare hard for guinea pigs - I see it as a positive. In terms of making ends meet it has to be hard and seen to be hard because part of the rationale for these reforms to deter others from going there.
My heart goes out to some of these kids though. I've got two teenagers and they are very, very lucky. They have something you can't put a price on. Security and unconditional love. That's what launches youngsters into a world that they can get the best out of. I fervently hope this new approach can make a real difference.
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