[Sub ID 4568] Holistic, two-generational support for young parents and their children (Micah Projects Inc)

Submission ID: 4568
Organisation name: Micah Projects Inc
Contact name:  Karyn Walsh
State: QLD
Contact email: karyn.walsh@micahprojects.org.au

Which priority group of the Try, Test and Learn Fund does your idea support?
Young parents

What need or issue are you trying to address?
While the national rate of pregnancies for young women 20 years and younger is declining, the rate in Caboolture QLD remains significantly higher at 10.5% (205 mothers) of overall maternity presentations; in 2015/2016 there were 34 young mothers aged 17 and under. Teenage mothers have increased risk of poor birth outcomes, lower levels of educational attainment, unemployment, long term welfare dependency, mental health issues, housing stress and developmental delays in the child. The rate for Newstart Allowance in Caboolture is 12.3/100, more than double the rate for Queensland as a whole. Only 45.4% of Caboolture residents completed senior high school and 26.7% of all families in Caboolture have no parent employed.

The percentage of developmentally vulnerable children in at least one domain in the Caboolture Catchment was 29.3%, higher than state and national averages. Young parents are less likely to access mainstream services, with barriers including fear of judgement, cost and access to childcare, low self-esteem and self-advocacy skills and lack of transport. Barriers to employment participation for young mothers include community perceptions of young parenthood and work and lack of local low skilled employment opportunities. Failure to access appropriate support during a special and vulnerable time for both parents and their children may exacerbate risk.

What is your idea?
Moving the whole family onto a path to educational success and economic opportunity and away from long term welfare dependency by investing in and supporting both children and parents (Two-Generational approach). Employment of ‘service connectors’, peer workers and workforce participation workers, to link with a young mothers health clinic and holistic family support. This approach aims to re-engage young parents in education and/or work; nurture parent-child bonds; improve children’s well¬being; and connect families with health, economic, social, and other support. Service connectors will work closely with young parents to access needed supports, ensure children’s health and education needs are being met and coordinate with the workforce participation worker and family support.

The workforce participation worker will deliver a dedicated group and individual program tailored to the needs of young pregnant and parenting mothers and coordinate with local family support, service connector workers, and peer worker to ensure education and employment outcomes for young mothers. Peer workers will offer positive modelling around parent-child interaction, education and employment, offer social and emotional support to young women and support parents in their role. All workers can work with women in their home; group programs will also be offered. An existing linkage with the Caboolture Health Academy offers an established education and employment pathway for young pregnant and parenting women. Use of flexible funding in the program would assist participants meet key case management outcomes and incentivise ongoing participation.