5N Key transition points in the schooling years
Downloading the skills for independence: Co-designing a new web resource for care leavers becoming independent
Transitioning to independence can be a challenge for young people. But most can grow into their adult skin slowly, infused by a loving family with the skills and knowledge that make independence exciting and achievable. And there’s usually a safe haven if independent living goes pear-shaped.
Children in out-of-home care face disadvantage by definition. Through no fault of their own, they often have a high Adverse Childhood Experiences score before they can even spell it. Their trauma responses can make it hard for loving foster families to embrace them or for residential facilities to teach them. They can then find everything ‘done for and to them’ by paid state carers on tight budgets, with no infusion of skills.
That’s why Relationships Australia SA Post-Care Services was funded to provide case management for care leavers. And we were clear we couldn’t simply risk ‘same shit, different agency’ that could leave many at the margins. And that’s why we asked our care leavers to co-design a new cheeky, irreverent, even bawdy website to ‘download the skills for independence’.
It provides an interactive online space that provides a fun, relaxed, engaging and entertaining place for young care leavers. This resource addresses topics such as relationship building, life skills and life hacks, safety, budgeting, accessing information and provides a support networks and space of solidarity. Content needs were identified by a large quantitative survey with care leavers and carers, and a series of focus groups. Regional and Indigenous care leavers have had little opportunity previously to voice their ideas and opinions, so these were of particular importance to us. The result includes a post care blog, a bunch of videos starring care leavers themselves, and an online game where young people can begin to build the skills they missed out on.
We conclude that ownership of young care-leavers over the space is crucial and is reflected in the co-design approach to the project. We will to continue to ask young care leavers about their experiences, in order to help equip them with the tools and resources they need to transition to adulthood smoothly. And also because once they started talking about their experiences – and how they wanted the transition to be different for those who come after them – they did not want to stop.
Nora Goodbourn has coordinated the development of Post Care Web Resources.
Namam Salih is Team Leader for Post Care Services.