Te Waipuna Puawai Mercy Oasis (TWP) is a non-profit community organisation that is committed to working with and alongside women, children and families living on the margins of our society. They aim to improve the lives of families by providing family support services, adult education while taking care of their children through the licensed early childhood care and education centre on site in Ellerslie. They have two sites – one in Ellerslie and one in Glen Innes.
Tara joined the TWP Team in 2008 specifically to develop and deliver The Young Mums Programme. This programme was created with a group of young mums and pregnant mums to be. The primary aim for the programme was to meet the needs of the young mums – as identified by themselves. We began to create the programme alongside the young mums from the very beginning, ensuring that the ownership of that creation was held by the young mums and what they wanted to do.
The programme included intensive social work intervention in conjunction with a 2 term programme that was split into two components – one was directed by Tara, the program coordinator, and the other was self-directed by the young mothers with support from Tara.
The program aimed to give young mothers a space of their own to learn and grow, as well as providing information, advice, advocacy and support to create resourceful young mothers.
The program objectives presented through all sessions were to:
- encourage self-value
- create individualised developmental plans for each young mother
- make connections so that young mothers are supported to seek and enter into community organisations that cater for any needs they have in order to achieve their future visions
- provide opportunities to develop role models and mentoring support from experienced mothers and child carers
- to meet other young mothers and reduce isolation levels
Pauline Dickinson from SHORE Research Centre (Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation) completed an evaluation of the programme and together, she and Tara published an article in Youth Studies Australia in 2010. The article was titled “Strengthening Young Mothers” and details the evaluation and experience of creating and coordinating the programme.