In Australia, there are more than 48,000 children in the foster care system and of this number, approximately 75 per cent won’t finish high school.
The reality is many of these children may have never felt a sense of love and support in their lives, leaving it up to their carers to put the pieces back together.
A training initiative launched in Victoria by Carer KaFE, in collaboration with The Pyjama Foundation is aiming to provide a new level of educational support.
In 2019, Carer KaFE will be working with The Pyjama Foundation to support carers in assisting their children with their learning, an area many of them may have never felt comfortable delving into.
It’s an area The Pyjama Foundation have been providing support in for more than 15 years, matching trained learning mentors with children in the system to provide educational support.
The Pyjama Foundation Program Manager Kevin Gallard said throughout his time training Pyjama Angel community volunteers he has met many wonderful carers who he describes as the “angels”.
“Our Love of Learning program allows us to support these carers by providing them with a special Pyjama Angel for their child, often giving them an hour of respite each week,” he said.
“This training takes this support one step further, empowering our carers with the tools to directly support their children with their education.
“Our program offers tried and tested learning methodologies which are research based and match the current curriculum.
“We demonstrate to foster parents how to support their children with literacy and numeracy in a fun and engaging manner.”
Launched in 2017, Carer KaFE provides learning and development opportunities for Kinship and Foster carers throughout Victoria.
Program Manager Penny Daly said this type of education was something carers were calling out for.
“Our evaluations and feedback from kinship and foster carers across the State told us that helping children and young people with their homework is something carers need support with,” she said.
“After seeing Kevin present at the Queensland National Foster Care Conference, we knew that we had found the perfect answer to the carers requests.
“Carers leave these sessions with a bag of wonderful resources that turn homework help into fun games.”
Kinship and Foster carers said the support received in this session was invaluable, providing strategies and resources to use for all ages.
“I felt stuck in helping my child educationally, now I have strategies to help and resources to use,” one said.
“I learnt new techniques to help my 6-year-old who at present hates school as she has issues with being told what to do. She won’t even know I am helping now,” said another.
For more information on Carer KaFE and its work in Victoria, www.carerkafe.org.au/.