Accessing a brighter future

What did you learn from your parents and growing up in your home? Did they teach you how to succeed in life, to get up when you fall and hop back on your bike? Did they make sure you went to school and had  dinner on the table every night? Sadly, many people did not have the idyllic childhood that is often taken for granted within the general community. Their parents were absent or incapable of care, they suffered abuse or neglect, or had nowhere safe to call home.

Our Children, Youth and Families Services exist to provide hope for children and young people who have not had the benefit of  enjoying a safe, stable and nurturing childhood.

Through a range of programs they assist children, young people and their families to build resilience and work at overcoming their traumas and grow.

Young people to benefit from access to vital support service

When young people are leaving out-of-home care or after being in the youth justice system, they can face a grim future,  unless they receive the right care and support to be able to establish a brighter future for themselves.

The Youth CONNECT program, delivered by Churches of Christ Care through the Queensland Government’s Social Benefit  Bond Pilot Program, has been developed to provide this support.  The service has now officially been launched at events in Brisbane and  Townsville.

General Manager Children, Youth and Families Leanne Rutherford said that local young people leaving care can often face a tough road ahead of them.

“Can you imagine entering into adulthood, as a young person, and knowing that others with your background have over a 50 per cent chance of experiencing homelessness within five years, about one in three will be unemployed, over half won’t have completed year 10, and only a third year 12, and substance abuse, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and youth pregnancy are prevalent. This is the terrifying reality for many of our young people transitioning from statutory care to independence,” she said.

“Through research though, we know  that with the right support, resources and care this doesn’t need to be their reality.” 

The Youth CONNECT Program provides early intervention and support for individual participants, and involves the finding of appropriate, stable and  supported housing options, followed by assistance with finding employment, education, personal  development and life skills.

“When you have a place you can call home, that is affordable and appropriate for your needs, it is easier to concentrate on  other aspects of your life, that is why we have taken a housing-first approach. Through our team of professionals, we can then help young people to get  on their feet, become more resilient to homelessness and reach their full potential.”

The program, which started taking referrals in December 2017, will help more than 300 people over six years in areas surrounding Logan, the Gold Coast and Townsville.

Youth CONNECT is the first Social Benefit Bond in the world to focus specifically on supporting young people exiting, or who have exited, statutory care or the youth justice system, and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The program provides a wrap-around service helping them to build resilience and achieve and maintain stable accommodation. The  program improves the opportunities for these young people who are experiencing vulnerabilities but need a helping hand and support to realise their goals and potential.

Breaking the cycle

For young people living in out-of-home  care, they face enormous disadvantage compared to the rest of the population, not  least when it comes to the education outcomes.

The Child, Youth Centre for Learning and Employment (CYCLE program) is an innovative program that we established in 2015 to re-engage young people in their education.

“The overall goal of the program is to help young people improve literacy and numeracy skills, complete their senior schooling and any other certificate, vocational or tertiary qualifications they need to achieve their goals and establish themselves with a strong footing for the future,” Leanne said.

Our Children, Youth and Families team realised that young people in out-of-home care for any length of time are vulnerable to becoming disengaged with their education or achieving diminishing results, and had a distinct lack of support around them to  turn things around.

“For young people living in out-of-home care, only 53 per cent will complete Year 10 or below, and only 35 per cent will complete Year 12. Each young person in CYCLE receives an individual plan and the tailored support they need to achieve their educational goals,” she said.

There are hopes to expand the service to other areas of the state beyond the current Logan location, and assist more young people achieve their goals. It is also hoped that CYCLE can implement its own curriculum, in-line with the national curriculum.

For more stories like this, download the latest edition of Networking magazine.

Posted June 14, 2018 in Networking blog