Helping Turn the Page for Children in Out of Home Care
According to recent statistics, more than 43,000 children currently live in foster care around Australia.
One of those children is a young girl named Charlotte.* When child protection services first met Charlotte, she was covered in bruises and had a serious head injury. Her father had been involved in violent crime, illegal drugs and had been in prison, but her injuries weren’t from him. It was Charlotte’s stepfather who was violent, admitting in a police interview that he had thrown Charlotte because she wouldn’t stop crying. Charlotte and her brothers were removed from her mum and stepfather and placed in foster care.
In foster care, Charlotte began to flourish, gradually building a strong and trusting bond with her foster parents. When she turned three, her carers discovered that Charlotte had a low intellectual ability, possibly as a result of the head injury she received as a baby.
Charlotte was born into horrifying circumstances but is now being given the opportunity to experience the childhood that she deserves – that every child deserves.
Many children in foster care have similar stories to Charlotte. Through no fault of their own, these children face an uphill battle when it comes to leading happy, healthy and productive lives. Those in foster care are far more likely to have poorer education and other social outcomes than children who aren’t, with the majority starting school “developmentally vulnerable.”
That’s why United Way Australia is bringing our early learning initiatives to more vulnerable children like Charlotte, through programs proven to have a positive impact on literacy, communication and early development skills.
Partnering with six community agencies that place children in foster care, in 2017 we delivered books and learning resources as part of the Imagination Library to over 365 children. For children like Charlotte, these books can open up a whole new world of imagination and possibility. For foster carers – many of whom may be stretched themselves in meeting the high needs of their foster children – they provide a way to connect and build trust with their charges, while also building much-needed and often-neglected early learning skills.
Thanks to the support of generous partners, in 2017 we were also able to secure funding to continue this vital work, bringing books and the chance to connect to even more vulnerable children.
If you’d like to help turn the page for vulnerable children through high quality early literacy materials, resources and support, please consider making a donation today.
*Name has been changed.