22 April 2020

Vacation care provided for vulnerable children

In conjunction with the Department of Human Services (DHS), YMCA South Australia (YMCA SA) has reactivated four of its managed metropolitan recreation centres to provide school holiday care for at risk youth.

Centre Manager Scott Lampshire with DHS and YMCA SA staff at St Clair Recreation Centre, one of the four reactivated YMCA centres

The initiation of the new and unique YMCA School Holiday Program at the centres is a direct response to the urgent need to provide a safe holiday environment for highly vulnerable young people between the ages of 12 and 16, while COVID-19 isolation measures are in place.

A strong case for offering school holiday activities to vulnerable children and young people has been identified to provide immediate protection from worsening home environments, keep them occupied and away from public places, maintain their interest and engagement and provide a sense of belonging over this challenging period.

The program has started at the John McVeity Centre in Smithfield Plains, St Clair Recreation Centre in Woodville, Marion Leisure & Fitness Centre in Morphettville and The Parks Sports & Recreation Centre at Angle Park, with each centre accepting a maximum of 30 participants.

DHS and YMCA SA have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that sets out the program’s roles and responsibilities, and YMCA CEO, David Paterson, said that the quick and decisive activation of the program was the result of a unified approach.

“These are unprecedented and challenging times and it’s important that immediate action is taken to address urgent issues such as looking after the needs of disadvantaged or vulnerable people. This is such a case and it is pleasing to be able to assist in providing real support in partnership with government,” he said.

The YMCA has always found ways to help people and communities in times of crisis. In response to COVID-19, we are providing emergency child care at our OSHC centres, and now the school holiday program for youth extends that effort to another community segment in need.

“During school holidays, children and young people often experience vulnerability because they are unable to access their school environment where many of them feel safe. The School Holiday Program provides these children with security and a social outlet.”

The program started on Tuesday 14 April and will run until Friday, 24 April between 8am and 4pm at each centre. The program is run by appropriately experienced staff from the YMCA Children’s Services team, complemented by specialist Recreation and Community Strengthening staff as required. Specialist Family Practitioners and Community Development Officers from DHS are also supporting this program at each centre.

DHS together with the Departments of Education and Child Protection are primarily responsible for identifying and reaching out to children and families who the program is intended to serve.

A specific program has been designed for each centre by YMCA SA and DHS. Guided by advice from SA Health in relation to COVID-19, the program takes into account the characteristics of the children enrolled, the skills and experience of the YMCA SA staff running the program at each centre, the facilities, equipment and materials available for use at each centre.

As a non-profit organisation focussed on young people, YMCA SA is delivering the program on a cost-recovery basis. The specific cost is on a site-by-site basis and comprises a combination of fixed, variable and support costs. A specific plan and budget have been developed for each centre.

Depending on the results after the review of the initial program, it or a variation thereof may be repeated in the Term 2 (or future) school holidays.

For further information contact:

Komala Champion
Area Manager - Children’s Programs
YMCA South Australia
M: 0498 988 462
E: komala.champion@ymca.org.au