There are almost 50,000 Australian children in foster care. We want children to experience safe, continuous and stable living arrangements, lifetime relationships and a sense of belonging. Sometimes this is achieved through restoration to their families, other times it happens through short or long-term care with fostering families, guardianship or adoption. We continue to support young people through key life transitions such as starting and finishing school, starting a career and preparing to live independently.
Preventing children from entering foster care
Wesley Mission believes early intervention and the right support systems are key to keeping families together and preventing children from entering the foster care system. In 2018/19, the NSW Government awarded us a new contract to run a preservation and restoration model as part of our existing out-of-home-care program. This year our family preservation model prevented 22 children from entering the foster care system. Through support from Wesley Mission life coaches and psychologists, families develop practical problem-solving skills and work towards building a safer home environment.
Finding permanent homes for children in our care
We believe all children deserve a loving and stable home. Our goal is to find permanent homes for children in our care whether through adoption, restoration to their birth family or extended kin such as grandparents, aunts or uncles. Our first preference is to restore children to their birth families. If that’s not possible, we’ll seek out guardianship options and long-term care through adoption. In 2018/19 we supported 11 adoptions and began processing another 59. We restored 24 children to their birth families and one to extended kin.
Although we facilitate and support adoptions, we’re not currently an accredited adoption agency. We’ve applied for accreditation as an adoption agency and submitted all documentation to the Children’s Guardian. While we wait for accreditation, we’ll continue to facilitate more adoptions as we seek to find permanent placements for children in our care.
Strengthening the lives of young people leaving foster care
The journey from childhood to adulthood and independence is a challenging transition for anyone but even more so for young adults leaving foster care.
In 2017/18 Property Industry Foundation (PIF) and Lendlease gifted $800,000 to renovate two
Wesley Mission properties in North-Western Sydney to provide safe accommodation for young people
aged 15 to 25 who are transitioning out of the foster care system.
Named ‘Wesley KickStart’, the two homes are now operational and currently house 12 young people who have left foster care, under the supervision of two house parents. Over the next few years we’ll increase the number of young people living in these homes up to 22.
Wesley KickStart forms part of the broader Wesley Take Charge of Your Life program, which assists young people leaving foster care to find a home and develop the necessary life skills to live independently. The young people living in the Wesley KickStart homes will also receive ongoing case management as they study, search for employment and develop life skills to work towards independent living.
PIF has committed a further $300,000 per year for four years to maintain the Wesley KickStart homes.
Helping young people achieve their career goals
We believe education is a powerful tool which can help young people reach their potential and achieve their life goals. Each year, the Wesley Dalmar Scholarship financially supports young people with tertiary education.
In 2018/19, five Wesley Dalmar Scholarships were awarded to students who receive foster care through Wesley Mission. Two recipients are completing university courses: Bachelor of Psychology and a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts. Three students are studying courses at TAFE: Commerce, Community Services and Animal Studies.
Scholarship funds not only cover the cost of course fees but educational and living expenses including text books, travel expenses and rent.
Since its inception, 22 scholarships have been awarded with one completed, three recipients nearing the end their courses and another three who are two-thirds of the way through their courses.
One of the first recipients who completed a course in Graphic Design successfully found employment in her chosen field. Another student who has almost finished their apprenticeship, has started working as a sole trader. Another has just completed her first social work placement.
Through Wesley Take Charge of Your Life, a program which supports young people aged 15 to 25 as they transition from out-of-home-care to living independently, we’re also supporting students with developing necessary life skills. Many scholarship recipients have learnt how to juggle study, work and day-to-day living through the program.