Howell, A., Lynch, D., Phillips, L.G., & Martin, K. (2019). Young Families Connect: Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Young Women to Complete their Schooling.

Young Families Connect (YFC) is a Program of Excellence at Ipswich State High School that commenced in May 2016. The program seeks to remove the barriers faced by pregnant and parenting young people through flexible curriculum delivery, within a supportive and nonjudgemental environment. Through the program, students access a range of resources and support services to enable them to complete their formal schooling. The program is funded by Mission Australia as part of the Communities for Children (CfC). This initiative of the Federal Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) focuses on early intervention and prevention approaches to improve children’s and young people’s health and well-being. The YFC program has the capacity to enroll up to 20 young women. At the time of the research 15 young mothers were enrolled in the program; however 4 young women were on Maternity Leave and were therefore unable to be interviewed. Working in partnership with a range of government organisations such as Queensland Health, the Aboriginal Community Controlled health service KAMBU Health and other external agencies, the program aims to provide comprehensive, wrap-around support for young parents. Simultaneously focussing on academic and parenting education, the program provides on-site child care and play groups, flexible learning options and links with external organisations to addresses barriers to school completion. Through advocacy and support of young parents in relation to a wide range of factors, including social and economic disadvantage, the program aims to build capacities of young parents, so they can maximise their opportunities for future meaningful employment. Through collaboration between The University of Queensland and the YFC program, together with Ipswich State High school, research was undertaken to develop a clear image of YFC operating within the school and wider community. The objective of the project was to find ways to enhance the program within the local school and community contexts. These data may also be used to inform similar programs in different communities.

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