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Helping Karl find his way in the world

After several years living in staff-run homes (residential care), Karl was going home.

At 16 years of age, Karl had some challenging behaviours, fell in with the wrong crowd, and would get in and out of trouble with the Police. Now, with the Family Court issuing a Family Reunification Order, he had the chance to turn his life around and return to live with his mum, her partner and two step siblings

A Targeted Care Package (TCP) was put in place to help Karl return to the family home. TCPs are a Victorian Government initiative that provides an allocation of funding attached to a specific child or young person. The packages are tailored on an assessment of a young person’s needs and are specifically focused on enabling the transition of a young person from residential care into an alternative living arrangement.

To further help the transition, Karl’s TCP support was Brett, one of MacKillop’s residential staff he trusted and knew he could depend on. Brett became a Key Worker/ case manager and worked closely with both Karl and his Mum to ease them into living together through Family Intervention work.

Everyone was hopeful that this would be a new start for Karl who had been on a probation order and was now looking forward to turning things around. But plans don’t always fall easily into place.

Karl’s experiences social anxiety and finds it difficult to interact with strangers. He refused to go out in public on his own and did not want to engage with new people. Karl and his mum struggled to communicate and they grew further and further apart, with Karl retreating into his shell and not interacting with the family. Brett thought respite might help Karl and his mum’s relationship and offered to take Karl out, hoping to build up to a few days away on a trip.

Initially, Karl didn’t know where he wanted to go, so Brett suggested they go fishing on the Wye river. Karl discovered a love of nature and soon they were hill walking and rock climbing in the Dandenong Ranges. Although Karl enjoyed being in nature, he still found it difficult to interact with new people.

Little by little, Brett encouraged Karl to build up his resilience in public. He would take Karl to a café and they and eat takeaway in the car until he felt comfortable enough to go inside. Over the weeks, Karl built up the confidence to sit at a table and have his lunch at the café, even ordering off the menu himself.

Karl told Brett that living with his mum was not working out and he wanted to develop a relationship with his father. Karl’s mother agreed that they were not happy and was supportive of Karl contacting his father.

With Brett’s support, Karl contacted his father, and his dad was receptive to the opportunity to get to know his son. They slowly developed a good relationship and Karl started to stay a couple of nights a week with his dad. After a few months, he moved in permanently and Karl started to work out and eat more healthily with his dad. Through the support of his TCP, Karl was able to take out a gym membership which helped him feel more confident and he started to work out regularly.

As his relationship with his dad developed, Karl also got to know his paternal grandmother who had looked after him when he was little and who was also open to re-establishing contact and support for her grandson.

Karl struggled with attending school in the past but the flexibility within the TCP allowed Brett to support him at school. Karl was able to obtain his White Card and his First Aid Certificate to enable him to access building sites should he decide to apply for work in this area. The TCP helped fund his work clothing and boots.

Karl has come a long way in the last few years. He has not had any involvement with police and although he still has issues with social anxiety, these are much more manageable. Where before he kept himself away from interacting with new people, his confidence has grown so much that Karl has started to look for work and is able to approach employers on his own. Karl is determined to learn a trade and make a successful life for himself.