Support for teenage mums welcomed

Support for teenage mums welcomed

UnitingCare Burnside has welcomed the announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard of support for young teenage parents.

In response to the announcement made at UnitingCare Burnside’s Happy Young Parents group in Campbelltown, Claerwen Little, Acting Director UnitingCare Burnside welcomed the focus on getting young parents back into education.

“Directing resources to vulnerable young parents and their children helps transform lives. Education is a key pillar to helping young people change their lives through building on their strengths and capabilities, and gaining the skills and qualifications to enter and stay in the workforce,” Ms Little said.

“Investing in young parents not only gives them opportunities but should also give their children a better start in life and help break the cycle of disadvantage.”

While welcoming the announcement, UnitingCare Burnside warned against using the “stick approach” to accessing this support.

Young parents need a flexible approach to be supported back into education, whilst providing care for their babies and toddlers.

“There is no independent evidence that ‘breaching’, suspending welfare payments, actually works. We urge the government to be wary of the unintended consequences of punitive policies and the impact they may have on vulnerable young parents and children,” said Ms Little.

“We need to ensure that programs and funding achieve the aim of breaking welfare dependency, not entrenching it. There is evidence that conditional access to support services can increase stigmatisation and lead to greater levels of entrenched disadvantage of young parents and their children.”

UnitingCare Burnside is a leading provider of child and family programs throughout New South Wales. Programs such as Happy Young Parents, Parents as Mentors and Young Parents Playgroups focus on supporting young people to maintain links with education whilst developing parenting skills.

“Our experience shows that real results can be achieved in regard to getting young parents back in to education, by ensuring there are flexible supports in place, such as transport and child minding.

“Young parents are helped to navigate entry back into the education system and their children are also provided with high quality early childhood education. Our parents need to be able to go off to TAFE or school confident that their babies are being provided with the best quality care and education,” Ms Little said.

About UnitingCare Burnside

UnitingCare Burnside is one of the largest providers of child and family services in New South Wales.

In 2010 UnitingCare Burnside worked with 13,000 children, young people and family members.

Burnside’s services work directly with children and young people and with families in programs for early intervention and child wellbeing, child protection and out-of-home care. It works in disadvantaged communities across rural, regional and metropolitan New South Wales.

UnitingCare Burnside is a member of the UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families, a Service Group of UnitingCare NSW.ACT.

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