Mark Potts of Cardiff, 18, transitioned from foster care to CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning’s (CatholicCare) Supported Independent Living (SIL) program a year ago. Mr Potts had been in foster care since he was five, moving a couple of times before living with one carer for 12 years.
Mr Potts is very appreciative of the support provided to him through SIL, saying “My caseworker has helped me in learning how to manage my bills and rent, and has helped me with work opportunities.
“Since finishing a Certificate II in Automotive Servicing Technology at TAFE, CatholicCare has helped me get some work experience with a motorbike mechanic.
“I hope one day to find full-time employment, own my own house, start a family and be closer to my existing family − I just have to convince them to move up to Newcastle from Sydney first!
“The SIL team has been supportive, helpful and informative. I have achieved a lot over the past year and am looking forward to what the future holds,” Mr Potts said.
Katrina Young of North Lambton is also 18 and has overcome a great deal of adversity to study a Certificate III in Business Medical at Hunter TAFE with an eye to securing full-time employment.
“From three to 16 my great grandmother was my foster carer, until she was diagnosed with dementia in 2014. My older brother then passed away which left me in an unstable living environment and later homeless, while still studying at high school.
“I became involved in CatholicCare’s SIL Program in March 2015 and since then I have received support from a caseworker who has helped me with work and study and supported me to understand more about my Indigenous heritage. I’ve developed essential skills and now feel more confident living independently.... I’ve also regained contact with family members, which has been very important to me.
“I am proud that despite some setbacks in the past 12 months I have completed my Higher School Certificate and a Certificate II Traineeship with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy. I was also thrilled to be accepted into the University of Newcastle “Live, Learn, Grow” program,” Ms Young said.
CatholicCare Director, Helga Smit, said the SIL Program is changing the lives of countless young people. “The SIL Program provides housing and support for young people aged 16-18 years who have been living in Out of Home Care (including foster care) and are now ready to commence their transition to more independent living arrangements. SIL encourages young people to develop independent living skills, make their own decisions and work towards developing and achieving their life goals. We place a high value on empowering individuals to achieve their full potential and we are incredibly proud of Mark and Katrina’s achievements, especially in such a short period of time,” Ms Smit said.
Please visit www.catholiccare.org.au