Children taken in to foster care often arrive at a carer’s home with nothing, but vulnerable children in Ballarat will now arrive with a care pack thanks to Community Service students at FedUni.
The First Night Care Packs come with everything a child might need for a night in care: a pair of pyjamas, underwear, a change of clothes, socks, hair brush, tooth brush and a comfort item such as a teddy or soft toy, book or game.
The students devised the packs as part of their course work, and after seeking donations and hoping to put together 50 packs they found themselves with enough supplies to create 320 packs which have been given to Berry Street, CAFS and the Department of Health and Human Services’ child protection unit.
On Wednesday, representatives from the child protection unit visited FedUni to thank the students and give them a sense of the difference the packs have made to children arriving in foster care.
“They said it was not uncommon that children would be taken in to care at very quick notice and have nothing with them when a DHHS worker dropped them off to a home,” said FedUni community services teacher Katrina Kavanagh.
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“And she said there were many stories of people trying to go to an all-night Kmart to get items they needed for a foster child.”
More than 25 Diploma of Community Services Work students have worked throughout the year to create First Night Care packs.
“One of the subjects they were studying was ‘develop and implement service program’ in which they had to set up a program and implement it,” Ms Kavanagh said.
“After connecting with Berry Street and learning about the foster care program in this region, and also having foster carers come in and talk to them, they identified … the need and investigated what the children would use.”
A donation drive, gofundme page and promotion on social media bought in more goods than first expected, with students travelling many hours to pick up donated goods and packing the bags.
“Feedback from workers has been that the packs are really useful and helpful,” Ms Kavanagh said.
“And the students have learned not only how to set up a service but how to work with each other and what it takes to work in the community service sector.”
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