For over 50 years, Time for Kids has been supporting children and young people experiencing disadvantage that places them at risk of poor life outcomes. We take pride in the unique program that Time for Kids delivers, placing disadvantaged children and young people in volunteer care relationships for weekend or day-based care. This simple but extraordinarily powerful preventative intervention is based on fundamentally the same, proven theory of change that Time for Kids has implemented since 1960:
- Professional referral of child with multiple disadvantage / risk factors.
- Volunteer carer providing regular support to a child.
- Professional support to the caring relationship.
- Professional support to the child in their context.
- Formal assessment of child’s eligibility and complementary supports required.
- Regular engagement / activities between child and carer.
- Placement support through training, resources and advice to carers regarding the needs of each child.
- Information, support and referral in relation to family needs impacting on the wellbeing of the child.
- Best volunteer matches tailored to the needs of the child.
- Informed supports and interventions in partnership with referring agency, directly matched to the needs of the child and their family.
- Child’s exposure to alternative activities, experiences, learnings, opportunities and role models than are available within their existing networks.
- Respite from the home environment, which can be stressful or lack nourishment for the child.
- Respite for parents whilst their child is being cared for.
- Early identification of and response to challenges within the caring relationship.
- Carers proactively informed on the needs of their Time for Kids child and how best to respond to these.
- Delivery of emergency relief to low-income families in need.
- Referral of families to other health and social support services as required.
- Long-term, stable relationships that support children throughout their lives.
- Families supported to respond constructively to the challenges of parenting, reducing the risk of family break-down resulting in children’s removal into alternative care.
- Deep feeling of being cared-for by the child, due to the volunteer nature of the relationship.
- Expansion of the child’s understanding of the options and pathways open to them, changing life choices and outcomes.
- Child’s increased resilience and capacity for responding constructively to life challenges.
- Reduced emotional stress for the child and associated risks for poor life outcomes.
- Time and opportunity for parents to address the root cause of challenges impacting on family wellbeing.
- Informed, capable and resilient carers, able to respond to the challenges and needs of their Time for Kids child.
- Behavioural and developmental improvement for the child, supported through positive role modelling and informed assistance from their carer.
- Expansion of carers’ understanding of the circumstances of vulnerable families and opportunities to drive positive social change.
- Reduced financial hardship within the family, building their capacity to meet the material needs of their child.
- Holistic support to families across all areas of need to reduce stressors and improve child and family outcomes, including family preservation.
In 2006, Professor Mark Halsey from Flinders University undertook a formal evaluation of the Time for Kids program. He found:
- Placement provided clients with the resilience needed to overcome or neutralize the risk factors typically associated with juvenile offending.
- Participants offered overwhelmingly positive statements concerning the relationship between placement and their life course (saying that respite foster care positively impacted levels of self-esteem, confidence, resourcefulness and sense of identity).
- Placement through Time for Kids resulted in the development of broader expectations and possibilities for participants and provided a more diverse and inspiring exposure to the world.
- The placement experience played a significant role not only in each participant’s childhood but, by default, in their psycho-social development as young people.
- Participants drew very positive connections between the quality of the placement experience and the fact that carers were volunteers (that is, good faith in the motives of carers was maximised from the earliest possible moment in the placement event due to removal of financial reward).
- Nearly half of those interviewed are involved in ongoing relationships with their carer family (i.e. relationships which have persisted beyond the services and initial contacts provided by Time for Kids).
- Time for Kids was unanimously lauded by participants for their unobtrusive “behind the scenes work” and for providing a seamless transition from having to live at home (often under very stressful conditions) to being able to live with a respite foster family.
- Nearly half of participants remarked, unprompted, that they would be more than willing to provide respite foster care for a child in need (complementing any current and future efforts to expand the volunteer base in South Australia).