How the Young Parents Program helped me

How the Young Parents Program helped me

Chisholm’s Young Parents Program helps Year 11 and 12 students with young children to complete their schooling. Three participants have shared their stories.

09/12/2021
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Being a young parent can be challenging, particularly when you’re trying to juggle parenting and studies.

Luckily there are options available to help young parents to reach their goals.

The Learn Engage Connect VCAL Young Parents Program at Chisholm allows young people aged 15 to 25 to study VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) with their children (up to three years old) in class, supported by an early childhood educator.

The curriculum is tailored to the needs and interests of the young parents in the program and there’s a family support worker/program co-ordinator available to help students with their personal wellbeing.

Young people don’t need to have a Year 10 pass in order to access the program and they can be pregnant (over 20 weeks) when they begin the course.

Three participants in the program have shared their stories.

Caitlin Davis

Caitlin became a young single mum at age 21. She was feeling lost and wondering which direction to take in her life when a friend told her about the Young Parents Program.

Caitlin had not completed Year 11 or 12, so she decided to give it a shot.

“I ended up loving it,” Caitlin says. “Because I was so young, I found a lot of the mum groups were older and I couldn’t connect with them. Going into the VCAL Young Parents Program, it was other mums my age and we were actually there for a reason.”

Caitlin spent two days a week in the classroom studying, with the support of a childcare worker helping to care for her daughter.

“A childcare worker was consistently there, but we still had to feed our children, change them and put them down for a sleep if we were available,” she says. “The childcare worker taught us parenting skills too, which was a massive help.”

Caitlin says she made lifelong friends, while getting a qualification.

“Being able to do that while also taking my daughter to school (who was four months old when I started) was the best opportunity ever.”

Caitlin loved the course so much, she ended up doing a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and took a job as an early childhood educator with the Young Parents Program.

“I’ve done a full circle,” she says. “Working with the program is amazing and it’s helpful for the girls knowing that I was in their position. That was me. I feel like I’m helping them now – I’m just returning the favour.”

Corise Tarr

Corise dropped out of high school during Year 11 VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education). At the time, she was in a relationship with someone whom she says was a bad influence.

At age 18, she fell pregnant and became a single parent soon after the birth of her daughter.

Corise says those early years of being a parent were challenging, particularly as she was suffering depression and anxiety.

“After having her, I just felt very withdrawn,” Corise says. “I didn’t have any friends or anything. My counsellor found the Young Parents Program and suggested I enrol.”

Over the course of two years, Corise completed her VCAL Year 11 and 12. Her daughter was three months old when she started the course.

“I loved the Young Parents Program so much. I think it was the best thing I ever did for my confidence and for new learning experiences. It was like a big counselling group too, as well as doing Year 12.”

Corise says one of the highlights was the social aspect of the program.

“It’s hard to socialise when you have a baby, but this really motivated me to get out and do things, and I was also amongst other young mums who were in similar situations. We even did cooking classes and learned parenting skills, which really helped.”

Corise says the program co-ordinators really helped encourage her to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. She is now working in the industry and loving her career.

Chloe Pankhurst

Chloe joined the Young Parents Program a few years ago.

She says she had been kicked out of high school but knew that completing Year 11 and 12 VCAL was important to her.

Through the program, she was able to access the support she needed to achieve her goals.

“They assisted with so much – getting certificates, getting a rental property and providing support with my son,” Chloe says. “I would highly recommend the program.”

During her second year at Chisholm, Chloe fell pregnant with her second child, but still managed to complete her schooling. She says without the Young Parents Program, she doesn’t know if that would have been possible.

“It’s not so much an educational system – the Young Parents Program – it’s being welcomed into a family,” she says. “You go on excursions together; you spend most of your time with them and they see your child being brought up. It’s family.”

Chloe says even after graduating, she was overwhelmed by the support she received.

“The program co-ordinator helped guide me about what I could do after graduating and I still frequently get messages from her,” says Chloe. “She also helped with a scholarship to get into the Diploma of Early Childhood Education, which I am so grateful for.”

Chloe plans to complete a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Primary Education, then go on to be a primary school teacher. She says more than anything, she wants to show her sons that you can overcome any obstacle in life when you put your mind to it.

Chisholm delivers the Learn Engage Connect VCAL Young Parents Program in partnership with the Frankston Mornington Peninsula Local Learning and Employment Network, Anglicare and Communities for Children.