Maddie McLeod has been a social worker for twenty years, the past six in the Out of Home Care sector, with previous experience in the criminal justice sector. Maddie has a passion for using the Arts to enable healing and connection for children and adults impacted by trauma.
Precious cargo: Using camps to provide children raised by grandparents opportunities for connection and healing (Poster Presentation)
Despite grandparent care representing the fastest growing form of out of home care in Australia, little is known about the profile, characteristics, and experiences of this group. Furthermore, the voices of children cared for by their grandparents are largely absent in any research. Families Australia recommended in 2007 that the voices of children being cared for by their grandparents be documented to provide insights and understanding about the children, their grandparents and their families. However, the voices of the children affected by such care arrangements and the supports that sustain them remain unheard in current research on grandparent-headed families. Wanslea, in partnership with ECU and Curtin University, are currently undertaking research, funded by Lotterywest, to better understand the experiences and needs of grandparent-headed families. One component of this research is leadership camps for children in the full time care of their grandparents. Aimed at secondary school aged young people between 12-17 years, the purpose of these camps, run by Wanslea, are to provide opportunities for young people to connect with others, share stories, and build networks with other teenagers with the same lived experience. Additionally, the camps provide recreational opportunities, cultural immersion experiences, and life skill development. The camps are being evaluated by ECU, using survey and focus group strategies, to hear directly from young people about their experience of being raised by grandparents. This presentation will provide an overview of early findings from the evaluation, as well as observations from camp leaders as to the outcomes of the camps.