UnitingCare West Family Group Homes gives vulnerable children and young people in Perth a safe environment to heal from past traumas.
Up to four children live in a family group home, quite often siblings, who have been removed from their parents for various reasons. The experience is painful and traumatic, so UnitingCare West provides an environment which gives the kids safety, consistency and a nurturing space to grow.
Tara Seaward is the manager of UnitingCare West’s Out of Home Care programs. She said that often when children and young people arrive at the Family Group Home, they are scared and react from a fear base, but as they work through the program things start to improve.
“We see such great progress when a child or young person comes into our care,” Tara said. “Over time you see them starting to feel safe, you see them staring to open up a little bit.”
The program provides kids with all the basic care requirements, but also guides them through emotional work, so that once they’re ready to leave the program, they are much more equipped to handle difficult situations that may arise in the future – an approach which differs from other residential care providers.
“We want them to be in a loving, nurturing environment. And that’s what Family Group Homes provides; it provides a healing environment. If we don’t do something now to help with their trauma, it will continue to negatively impact on them for their rest of their lives,” Tara said.
Family Group Homes is currently seeking mentors who could commit to regular and consistent visits with children and young people in their care. Mentor activities could range from social or community based activities to education support, so the aim would be to set-up partnerships based on similar interests.
Jess Arrowsmith, case worker at Family Group Homes, believes that mentors can make a big difference to a child’s life.
“It’s not the destination; it’s the journey in this kind of work,” said jess. “And every little bit counts. One person can absolutely change a child’s life.”
If you are interested in becoming a mentor for a child living in a UnitingCare West Family Group Home, contact Tara at firstname.lastname@example.org.