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Making sense of life in care

An innovative new pilot program, to help young people living in out of home care understand their life's narrative, has been launched thanks to a generous philanthropic grant.

Knowing your family history – particularly where you’ve lived, and who you’ve lived with – is fundamental to understanding who you are.

But sadly, for many young people living in out of home care (OOHC), their life’s narrative becomes lost and confused due to the turmoil of their lives. Many don’t understand why or how they have come to be living in residential or foster care, and the grief and trauma they experience can affect how they feel, think, behave and make sense of life.

To better support young people in OOHC, MacKillop has launched an innovative pilot in NSW’s Northern Rivers region, aimed at helping them understand how the loss of family and home can impact their life. The pilot will see our carers trained in MacKillop’s world-renowned Seasons for Growth program. The program has been previously adapted to support children and young people manage other significant life experiences including a suicide event, forced migration or a natural disaster.

The pilot has been made possible thanks to a generous philanthropic grant from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation. The funding will be used to adapt Seasons for Growth to meet the specific emotional needs of young people living in OOHC, a group that presents with complex needs, especially in relation to unanswered questions or misunderstanding about why they are in care.

A team of MacKillop residential care workers and foster carer case managers will be trained in the program, better enabling them to support the emotional and wellbeing needs of the children and young people in their care.

MacKillop CEO, Dr Robyn Miller, said Seasons for Growth offered children and young people a safe space to come together, and share their experiences of change and loss.

By providing them with tools to strengthen their personal resilience, coping and social skills we can help to increase their sense of belonging.

– Dr Robyn Miller, CEO
Dr Robyn Miller CEO Mackillop Family Services

“MacKillop is committed to developing innovative programs that will empower young people to heal from their loss and trauma and achieve their potential. We want to be a leader in progressive, evidence-based programs that work to improve life outcomes for those we support.

Seasons for Growth will improve the mental health and social wellbeing of young people living in OOHC and provide them with a safe space to acknowledge their experiences, and learn new ways to adapt to changing, stressful circumstances. By using a peer setting, young people can learn from each other and understand they are not alone in their grief.”

Dr Miller welcomed the grant from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, adding that without such philanthropic support, bringing innovative, life-changing programs to traumatised young people in care would not be possible.

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Chair, Mr Phil Neat, said the foundation’s grants helped enable projects that rewrote futures for people in need. He said young people in OOHC represented some of the most vulnerable people in society and Seasons for Growth would address the impact of trauma and grief in the present and build the platform for resilient, heathy lives in the future.

Mr Neat congratulated MacKillop for committing to delivering this innovative program that would benefit the foundation’s regional communities for generations to come.