Children's Respite Services
Cara's school-based trainee is PM's pick
Although disability support workers are statistically of an older working age, young people are showing their passion for supporting people with a disability at Cara services.
Since 2011, Cara has enrolled seven school-based trainees to learn and work as support workers in Cara services. The year 11 and 12 students complete a minimum of eight hours of training and work a week (up to 38 hours a week in school holidays), which contributes towards their vocational education training in their SACE studies and a leads to the award of Certificate III in Disability.
Once the students finish school, they can continue their traineeship with Cara towards their Certificate IV in Disability.
One fine example is Cara’s first school-based trainee, Miriam Vigouroux, who enrolled in the program in 2011 and who has continued her traineeship this year. Miriam has worked on Cara’s Camps for Kids and at a children’s respite service.
Behind Miriam’s early passion for a career in disability support is her brother who lives with autism.
“I spent a lot of my childhood in hospital with my brother, so this type of work is something I’ve kind of always done and comes very naturally to me,” says Miriam.
Miriam has extended her caring personality to other vulnerable groups, including Aboriginal communities and impoverished communities in India. All these selfless acts at such a young age have resulted in Miriam receiving several highly-acclaimed awards, including a Humanitarian Award from her local MP, a winner of the 2011 Australian Vocational Student Prize and the South Australian winner of the 2011 Prime Minister’s Award for Skills Excellence in School.
“I must thank Cara staff members who played a vital role in my training by mentoring and developing me both personally and professionally,” says Miriam.
Cara is honoured to have Miriam as a trainee, and excited to attract more talent and enthusiasm like hers into the organisation.
“Our aim is to have enrolled 15 school-based trainees by the end of 2012,” says Cara’s Staff Training & Development Officer, Richard Buttery. “It’s essential that we recruit young people into these roles to supplement our ageing workforce and create future leaders in the disability sector.”
Cara becomes chartered territory for children
Cara became the 48th organisation in South Australia to endorse the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care when it received its certificate in June.
“While we have always been involved with young people in care as part of our respite programs and camps, it is only in the last 18 months that we have taken on a more specific role,” explains Todd Williams, Executive Manager, Respite and Client Services
“Under an arrangement with Families SA, we provide a therapeutic care model of support to 11 young people under guardianship in three locations. Cara works with them to provide stable, safe and nurturing environments in preparation for adulthood, ultimately supporting their transition into suitable long term accommodation.”
“Our values and our focus on rights already align with the Charter pretty well so endorsing was straightforward for the Board and the leadership team.
“The right to be heard and make choices, to be fully involved with decisions made about what happens in the house and to have a secure private space to call their own, all these are strongly stated in the Charter and also very important to young people living with disability, learning to manage their behaviour as they develop as citizens and move towards more independent living arrangements.”
Cara has incorporated the Charter into its policies and practice and features information about the Charter and a link on the Cara website.
Above right: Cara CEO Denice Wharldall (bottom left) signs the Charter certificate watched by Guardian Pam Simmons (bottom right) and the Cara executive team (back).
Photo supplied by the office of the Guardian for Children & Young People
Play is productive at Cara
Cara’s experience of supporting people with a disability over decades has identified that while adults learn through participation and practise, children learn best through play.
For this reason, Cara’s Play Project is placing greater emphasis on child development instead of disability support, where play time is the highlight of a child’s day at a Cara service. The Play Project is currently being evaluated at three Cara children’s services.
Cara Support Workers received training from TAFESA to identify a child’s developmental level and the play opportunities to further develop skills, including creative ways to improvise using the environment and resources around them. Following the learning, Cara arranged training and workshops in developing play opportunities with each child.
The development of this play training has been an excellent example of collaboration between service providers, educators and staff to provide better services for children with a disability, with the real winners being the children who receive a better service and are provided with opportunities to learn and have fun.