“Turning 18 is supposed to be a happy milestone to remember,” says Kaylah. “I had to leave foster care just days after my 18th birthday because my foster carer had to make room for another young girl needing a place to stay. I was couch surfing, and although I had people around me I had no one to trust. I felt alone.
“I had no idea how to get a job and didn’t think I could anyway as I didn’t finish school. After exhausting all options I ended up in a crisis refuge for young women, homeless and desperate and suffering from depression and anxiety due to trauma from my childhood.”
After three months, Kaylah was helped to find a more permanent address in community assisted accommodation – but had little hope for her future. Then she heard about the Young Warrior Woman Program.
Support for young women exiting out-of-home care
“Often youth in the out-of-home care system have lived through multiple traumas, such as abuse or neglect, multiple foster home placements, lack of continuity in education, and an array of losses – friends, family, siblings,” explains Founder and CEO of The Warrior Woman Foundation Jessica Brown. “It can create problems like mental illness, substance abuse, and a lack of confidence.”
The Warrior Woman Foundation received a Community Grant to launch a 6-month program for young women leaving care who are at high risk of becoming homeless. The Young Warrior Woman Program provides connection, life skills education, and mental health support via educational workshops, group therapy sessions and one-on-one mentoring.
“The program was exactly what I needed to build the confidence to believe in myself and set goals for the future,” says Kaylah. “I was matched with a really nice mentor who helped me get a part-time job and helped me to work out what I wanted to do as a career. Our weekly Zoom catch ups really helped me to keep going towards my goals and were good for my mental health as we were all in lockdown.”
Education and life skills
“All of the group presentations were inspiring and we also did a six week money management course which helped a lot,” says Kaylah. “Now I know how to do my taxes and how to spend my money wisely.”
“There are modules on setting boundaries, the neuro/biological effects of stress and trauma, healing and rebuilding yourself, and strategies for emotional regulation and empowerment,” says Jessica. “Job readiness modules ensure that our Young Warriors have the skills to write a resume, apply for a job and put their best foot forward in an interview.
“In our financial independence modules we teach them much more than just tax, super, credits and loans. We also teach them about money and relationships and how to identify the red flags of coercive control and financial abuse.”
Finding hope for the future
“We want all our Young Warriors to have clear goals for their future trajectory in education, training, and employment, and to have a safe, stable place to call home with the ability to meet their own basic needs. We also want them to feel a sense of belonging,” says Jessica.
It wasn’t long before Kaylah enrolled in a TAFE course to become an early childhood teacher. “I’ve learnt so many skills to be independent and I’m finally proud of myself,” she says.
Through the program she met other young women in similar situations and has made a group of good friends.
“Even though the program is now finished my mentor still calls me so I don’t feel alone anymore,” says Kaylah. “I have suggested this program to other young women who are in my position. I want them to know that there is help out there and people who care. I think I would be in a very different place if I had not joined the Young Warrior Woman Program.”
About the Community Grants Program
Every year the Sisters of Charity Foundation provides grants of up to $15,000 to small not-for-profits across Australia, like The Warrior Woman Foundation, that use clever ways to fight poverty, loneliness, suffering and oppression. We rely on the generosity of our supporters to fund our Community Grants Program.
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