MORE safe homes will be available for young people unable to live with their birth families in the Riverland and Mount Gambier as ac.care expands its residential care services.
The country agency is recruiting child and youth workers to be rostered 24/7 for the first residential care home in the Riverland and an additional home in Mount Gambier.
ac.care’s child and youth residential care service provides medium to long term accommodation and support to young people aged 10 – 18 years under the Guardianship of the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection for whom foster or kinship care places are not available.
A maximum of four young people are accommodated per house to provide a home-based setting.
Trained staff are rostered 24/7 to provide stability, safety and support.
The service provides young people with a safe therapeutic environment until they are able to transition into a longer term living arrangement.
“I'm pleased to announce we are expanding our residential care program into the Riverland, where we will be setting up a house that we've purchased to provide a safe home to support young people in care to stay in the local community,” ac.care chief executive officer Shane Maddocks said.
He said ac.care worked with foster carers across the Riverland and other regions who provided home-based family placements for vulnerable young people, but more opportunities were needed to provide safe homes and positive relationships for the growing number of children in state care.
Mr Maddocks explained ac.care worked to place children in residential or foster homes when they had been removed from their birth parents by the Department for Child Protection to protect their welfare due to neglect, abuse or an inability by birth parents to care for and keep their children safe.
“This will provide more opportunities for young people unable to live with their birth families to be able to be cared for and supported in their local communities,” he said.
At least 12 new employees will be required by ac.care to staff the Riverland home on rostered shifts and additional staff are also being recruited in Mount Gambier for the Limestone Coast expansion and in Murray Bridge to sustain existing services.
ac.care is seeking child and youth workers with existing experience in the sector or a Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention and encouraging applications from other professional disciplines, such as education, disability, social sciences and health where transferable skills and tertiary qualifications will be recognised and add value to the diverse care team.
Out of home care executive manager Dan Mitchell said ac.care would work in close partnership with the Department for Child Protection to establish the new arrangements after decades of experience in placing and supporting children in safe homes.
“It is all about working together to keep young people and children safe in care and the expansion is a great opportunity for Berri in particular to allow young people to stay in their community, at their local school, participating in their local sporting clubs and support groups and keeping connections with friends and family, instead of having to be placed further away, such as in Adelaide,” he said.
Founded in Mount Gambier in 1986 as a country specialist in care for young people, initially with a focus on foster care, the agency has grown to provide diverse services across eastern regional South Australia.
ac.care’s first residential care homes were opened in the Limestone Coast and Murray Bridge in 2007.
Once the residential care expansion is complete, ac.care will operate five homes in Mount Gambier, two in Murray Bridge and one in the Riverland, accommodating around 25 children.
ac.care community services general manager Kirsty Barnett said ac.care had strived to provide residential care in the Riverland for a number of years due to the need for placements to keep children in their home community.
“This provides another opportunity to provide local kids with a safe, caring place and we are really looking forward to recruiting local people to provide appropriate care to young people,” she said.
Ms Barnett said she hoped to facilitate opportunities over the longer term for the broader community to also support young people in care and help vulnerable children and teenagers secure a more positive future.
Visit www.accare.org.au/careers to learn more about job opportunities available for youth and child workers in residential care or call 1300 ACCARE (1300 222 273) for details.