Sustainable funding needed for young mums program
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Sustainable funding needed to continue the growth of young mothers support program

by Freya Lucas

June 20, 2024

There is an urgent need to secure sustainable funding for a program that supports young mothers in the South East of Victoria, a recent evaluation from Monash University has found, with those who have seen the benefits of the program first hand calling for more support. 


The Young Mothers Transition Program (YMTP) was launched in 2022 by South East Local Learning and Employment Network (SELLEN) and aims to engage or re-engage young mothers across Casey, Cardinia, and Greater Dandenong in education and employment through a case management model.


Early childhood education and care (ECEC) support is a vital component of the program, which sees two transition coaches working with a cohort of young mothers to  help address barriers to transport, mental health, housing, and other aspects of life which are challenging so that they can complete post-compulsory education and build knowledge for future employment.


It works in conjunction with other programs such as the Young Parents Education Program (YPEP) at Cranbourne Secondary College and Foundation Learning Centre which provides inclusive education and early parenting expertise and allows young parents to bring their baby with them while they learn and are supported by qualified parenting experts.


Since it began YMTP has supported over 100 young mothers in the region, however funding for the current program will end on 30 June, and without further support, the program will have to wrap up in October or November. 


Currently funded by the Women’s Leadership and Development Program (WLDP) of the Office for Women in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the future of the program rests on securing a more sustainable funding model. 


“It’s hard to secure sustainable funding. There are funding grants available of course but long term, they are not sustainable,” program manager Mary Tresize Brown shared with local news source Cranbourne News. 


For one participant, who chose to remain anonymous, the program was vital to completing school. 


“Kirstie [transition coach] has been an enormous help, from helping me with clothing and other essentials for the baby to helping with more difficult things such as Centrelink, lawyers, and learning about how to acquire housing, as well as getting me a stroller that I take everywhere with me,” she said.


“This program has helped me achieve major and minor goals but has also allowed me to gain so much knowledge, not only relating to schoolwork but also to general day-to-day life skills.”


Monash University’s Dr Penny Round evaluated the program as “overwhelmingly successful,” finding that the transition coaches were able to build relationships with their cohort, and remain connected with them to support them in addressing the barriers and challenges they faced so that education was possible.


Dr Round praised the coaches for being solution focused, supportive, strength based, and able to be “an absolute resource” for those in their care. 


“They were very accessible and that was important because what happened over time was that the students learned to trust Jen and Kirstie and to know that they were there. And not only were they there, but they were helping,” she noted. 


As well as recommending that the program continue, Dr Round highlighted the need for expansion, recommending the employment of more transition coaches to ensure the continued success of young mothers in need. 


“We also need to make sure that funding is there because I just can’t imagine what would happen if they weren’t there,” she added. 


In response to a request for comment from Cranbourne News a spokesperson for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said it was “a one-off grant awarded to the SELLEN in 2021 through the Women’s Leadership and Development Program to pilot the Young Mothers Transition Project.”


“We recognise the project has had a positive impact on the lives of young mothers in Melbourne’s South East,” they said.


“We encourage SELLEN to register on GrantConnect where future grant rounds and other upcoming Australian Government grant opportunities are published.”


To access the original coverage of this story please see here

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