Help for teens Leaving Care and Connect Mentoring Regardless of how well a young person is prepared to leave care they will face significant challenges in the transition to independence. The Leaving Care Program is available to assist young people, up to the age of 21 years, to support them through these challenges, once they have left the Child Protection or Out of Home Care system. The needs of leaving care clients vary a great deal. In keeping with the research, young people who have had the benefit of a long-term nurturing placement tend to do a lot better and therefore require less support. Our clients are often dealing with a number of challenges including the lack of a home, mental illness, drug dependency and single parenthood. Supporting links with education and training is a core element of post-care support. The Leaving Care program assesses a young person’s needs and develops a strategy and plan with the young person to attain their short and long term goals. A key focus of Leaving Care is assisting the young person to gain independent living skills. So how do I get involved? If you are on a Children’s Court order and involved with Child Protection at the age of 16 years you will most likely be eligible to access the service. A call to the Placement Coordinator at the Department of Health & Human Services will verify this, but also ring us here at Cafs and we’ll provide assistance to find out as well. Young people may also be referred via the Department of Health & Human Services community service organisations, schools, or by the young person or their family. The program has three components: post-care support, brokerage, and mentoring. Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can contact mentoring practitioner by calling Cafs on 5337 3333. The Leaving Care program is another example of Cafs engaging with the local community through the work undertaken by the mentoring program. The Connect mentoring program sits within Leaving Care and connects young people (aged 15 to 21) transitioning from the out-of-home-care system with volunteer mentors. Step up The Step Up Program works with adolescents aged 12 to 17 years living in the Ballarat, Moorabool, Hepburn, Ararat and Pyrenees local government areas who are engaging in physical, verbal, emotional, psychological and/or financial intimidation or violence that threatens the wellbeing or safety of their parents, carers and/or siblings. The program is designed as an early intervention counselling program that works therapeutically with adolescents and their families within a family-focused framework and aims to reduce and prevent adolescent family violence and increase the safety of all family members. The program works with adolescents and their families and focusses on four key areas: Establish and/or increase all family members’ awareness of how the use of intimidation and violence is inappropriate. As well as assisting adolescents to understand the consequences of such behaviours on all family members. This is achieved through individual and family counselling. Assist participants to develop and implement strategies to prevent future inappropriate behaviours and strengthen family relationships. Build personal and social skills for all family members by the therapeutic engagement that focusses on strengthening personal/cultural identity, self-awareness, self-management/control, inter-personal, general life, parenting and help-seeking skills/skills to stay safe, and Utilise appropriate referral pathways to other specialist service providers including mental and physical health, drug and alcohol support, housing support, emergency relief and education, training and employment support services and cultural networks and recreational activities. Residential Care The Cafs Residential Care program provides care for young people in a home-like setting, who are cared for by rostered paid staff members. Cafs operates three (3) purpose-built residential houses, all are based in Ballarat to provide fully staffed care for up to 4 children and young people in each house. The residential care program has qualified paid staff who provide appropriate day to day support to children and young people aged between 10 to 18 years whose individual needs require a specialised placement. The residential care program cares for children and young people on a medium to long term basis with the view to supporting them to return either home to their parents or to other types of care, such as with relatives or friends, or to Foster Care. Our aim in our Residential houses is to support young people to enjoy a safe, happy, healthy and positive lifestyle as a respected member of their local community. All referrals for residential care placements come through Child Protection Services. If you are a caring, compassionate worker, with a sense of fun, and interested in joining our team at Cafs to support these young people, we’d like to hear from you. If you are interested in a career in Residential Care we run several “Working in Resi” information sessions throughout the year. To find out more about Cafs "Working in Resi" sessions, phone 5337 3333.