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Volunteer Advocates for the most vulnerable children.

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Presentation on theme: "Volunteer Advocates for the most vulnerable children."— Presentation transcript:

1 Volunteer Advocates for the most vulnerable children

2 Acknowledgement Sue Keith, Serena Williams, Tracy Fox

3 cara For over 60 years, Cara (Community Accommodation and Respite Agency) has provided much needed accommodation and respite support services across South Australia for individuals with severe and multiple disabilities and their families. We support over 630 children, young people and adults with a disability, along with their families and carers. We are located at 53 sites across metropolitan Adelaide, Gawler, Mount Barker, Murray Bridge, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln and Port Pirie.

4 What we do We support 155 people with a disability with the opportunity to live independently in the community through Cara’s accommodation services. Through Cara’s respite services, families and individuals who care for people with a disability are offered the opportunity to take a break from the demands of full-time caring. We offer the Camp for Kids programme and run fifteen camps a year, used by over 120 children with a disability We operate the Families for Families programme utilising 20 trained volunteer families offering regular respite care in their own homes. Youth Getaway respite service for year-olds

5 Goals  Develop a recruitment and training strategy to recruit family members who have sons or daughters with a disability to act as advocates for other children with a disability( under the guardianship of the minister) or for other families of children with a disability.  Identify and recruit five children with a disability who do not have a family member/friend to advocate on their behalf and five families who indicate they would like the support and guidance of another family to assist them to advocate on behalf of their son or daughter with a disability  Recruit, train and support ten volunteer families  Match the volunteer families with the target group  From the learning develop a resource manual for other agencies/sectors

6 The Project-What is it? The “Volunteer Advocates for Vulnerable Children in Our Community” program has been developed to support: – children under the care of the Minister – families that need additional support to advocate on behalf of their own children.

7 Why & Who is it for? DisabilityCare Australia has a premise that family, usually parents, will make the decisions in the best interest of their son daughter with a disability A small group of children particularly those under the Guardianship of the Minister do not have someone in their lives unpaid to make decisions in their best interest. Do not want decisions by a committee. Want decisions in lounge rooms. Some families who find it difficult to speak up and would value the support from the Volunteer Advocates project.

8 The program has been designed to; ensure that the rights and interests of disadvantaged children with a disability are upheld DisabilityCare Australia is ensuring obligations under the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are lived in practice; and families of children with a disability feel empowered and supported.

9 Volunteer advocates to support vulnerable children and families The program is predicated on the belief that families who themselves have a child with a disability, will have the greatest insight and skills to understand the needs of another child with a disability and therefore be able to advocate for the child.

10 The role of the Volunteer Advocate supporting and mentoring help carers and families to think through decisions focusing on constructive pathways and positive outcomes

11 Program Manual Advocacy Training Package Available from /204 /204

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13 1 Recruit 2 Select 3 Induct & Train 4 Match 5 Advocate 6 Review Process

14 Stage 1- Recruitment: Promotion of the program -What is the aim of the program? Promotion of the program: Word of mouth, Direct referral, Web site, Newsletters, Text for Volunteer Advocate Program Flyer or Letter to Potential Program Participants. Participants wishing to be involved in the program can complete an expression of interest form to be Volunteer Advocate or to receive support.

15 Stage 2 - Selection: Interviewing of both, Volunteer Advocate and Carer is vital to understand their skills, interests and needs. It is important that due diligence is used in the selection of both Volunteer Advocates and children/families, to manage potential risks. As part of the due diligence process, potential Volunteer Advocates must have a satisfactory National Police Check and Volunteer Advocate Referee check

16 Stage 3 - Induction and Training Volunteer Advocates selected receive training in‘Child Safe Environment’ training, Advocacy Training and other training as specified in the organisation’s volunteer policy. Volunteer Advocates sign a copy of the Volunteer Advocate Position Description and the Volunteer Advocate Confidentiality Agreement. The Program coordinator ensures all elements of the induction and training are completed by the Volunteer Advocate before they are matched with a child or family.

17 Stage 4 – Matching Matching of Volunteer Advocates with children and families is a process of analysis supported by intuition. Program Coordinator facilitates the first meeting between the parties. If all parties agree, the Volunteer Advocate, Legal Guardian (parent, guardian or government representative for children under the care of the minister) and Program Coordinator must sign the PROGRAM AGREEMENT.

18 Making a match Understand the child’s situation and needs Research the prospective Advocates’ skills and ‘working style’. Interviews -find out how participants ‘tick’. For example: note response time to s or phone calls; confidence or ‘personality’ at sessions; attitude or patience to hurdles or time frames. A good match is not based on a history of dealing with similar issues; rather it is based on transferring skills that can be utilised in any situation when required.

19 Making a match Consider transport and availability. Small issues can affect the quality of the relationship. Similar interests? Getting to know people is much easier if there is the opportunity to share common ground. The relationship that will evolve is based on trust. Do you believe both parties will warm to each other and make the most of the experience?

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21 Stage 5 – Advocacy Once a match had been made the Volunteer Advocate and the person they are supporting will develop the advocacy relationship. The Program Coordinator is the first point of contact by either party should there be any issues. The Program Coordinator should support the Volunteer Advocates with information and advice on an ongoing basis. It is also recommended that the Volunteer Coordinator facilitate peer support functions for Volunteer Advocates so they can support and learn from each other in what can be a very demanding role. Volunteer Advocates should maintain a Volunteer Advocate Progress Notes

22 Stage 6 – Review Regularly review Families supported by a Volunteer Advocate may grow to become more confident and effective advocates for their own children and no longer need the support of a Volunteer Advocate. In some instances these families may go on to become Volunteer Advocates themselves.

23 Stats 179 families received the letter 8 Individuals were interested in being a Volunteer Advocates 1 family sought support 4 children under the guardianship of the minister being matched 1 family expressed interest for support has been matched

24 Feedback

25 Program Manual Advocacy Training Package Available from /204 /204


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