Transition Support Service four-year evaluation

Published: May 13, 2024

The four-year evaluation conducted by Malatest International of how the Transition Support Service is supporting young people who are leaving care is complete. The evaluation is accompanied by additional reports that informed the evaluation.


The incremental, continuous improvement approach to evaluating the effectiveness of the transition support service of the Transition Support Service, was stipulated in the paper to the Social Wellbeing Committee (5 November 2018) “Transforming our Response to Children and Young People at Risk of Harm: Paper Six: Transition Support”.

The Transitions Support Service (TSS) is underpinned by a graduated service model, which supports young people through their transition. This service starts from when young people are in care (including while they are in a care and protection or a youth justice residence), up until their 25th birthday.

The eligibility age for entitlements through the Transitions Support Service is set out in sections 386AAD and 386A of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

Young people become eligible after the age of 14 years 9 months, when they have spent a continuous period of three months in one or more of the following:

  • a care and protection placement
  • a residential youth justice placement (including detention) or police custody
  • under remand or a prison sentence in the adult justice system before turning 18.

Eligible young people are entitled to:

  • preparation and planning for independence, from age 15
  • remain or return to living with a caregiver from age 18-21
  • contact being maintained, up to the age of 21
  • advice and assistance, up to the age of 25.

The service has been progressively stood up from 2019 with the number of eligible young people increasing each year. At the end of 2023 5,146 young people were eligible for one or more component of the TSS. Of these two thirds are identified as Māori.

Key findings

Overall, the Transition Support Service is valued by the young people it supports and improves their lives.

In the fourth year of the Just Sayin’ survey of young people eligible for TSS we heard:

  • 81% thought their transitions worker made things better for them.
  • Of those still in care, 59% said they thought Oranga Tamariki made things better.
  • 82% of tamariki surveyed felt safe where they live.
  • 61% had an adult they could turn to.

Early indicators showed some improved outcomes for young people. Analysis using the IDI shows that TSS is creating positive change for young people in terms of employment and income, and more favourable justice sector outcomes. By the age of 19, TSS participants were less likely to record any Prison/Remanding Correction sentences, or Community Service Correction sentences.

The transition assistance line has developed and grown in response to identified needs. Following adoption of a holistic model of support young people were overwhelming positive about the support they received from the transition assistance line.

Assistance provided by the line varied by life stage of the young people with health being the greatest area of support requested by those over 21 and education, housing and getting a transition worker being the most common requests from those aged 16-20 years.

Despite the positive responses of young people and those who support them to the TSS there were a number of persistent issues identified.

  • Housing shortage was the main barrier for young people transitioning to independence from care and Youth Justice.
  • Oranga Tamariki planning and preparing young people for transition out of care is inconsistent and for those who left care a third felt their whānau was not involved as much as they would have liked in the planning process.

Transition workers and providers advocated widening the eligibility criteria to support young people who have not been in care or custody for three continuous months after the age of 14 years and 9 months, and when warranted to extend support past the age of 25.