The Project - Jalaris Kids Future Club
This project brings together all of the elements of work that we at Jalaris have been undertaking over the past 12 years into an holistic program. It is aimed at: improving the health and educational outcomes of Aboriginal kids in the Derby area working with the kids who are most at risk of missing out on education.
|Kids Future Club
||Family Support Outreach
||Research + Evaluation
The main components of the program are the delivery of two broad services:
Kids Future Club
- an afternoon kids educational activities club that operates four afternoons a week; and
- continuation of our Family Support and Health Outreach Service.
The afternoon kids educational activities will club operate four afternoons a week after school hours running educationally based cultural and health activities. The activities club works with Aboriginal children (up to about 12 years old) who are truanting, at risk of truanting or who have never attended school.
In Derby over 75% of kids under 14 are Aboriginal and their academic performance and attendance at school is very low. We know from the most recent volume of the West Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey that Aboriginal children quickly fall behind in their first years of school. This is for a variety of reasons, but most significantly because they are not prepared for a mainstream school culture, nor equipped with basic cognitive and developmental opportunities such as being read to or using pens and pencils.
The activities club will be staffed by two Aboriginal education workers and will build on the work of the Jalaris Drop in Centre and the Photo Me projects. Kids and their families will participate in project-based activities based on the key themes of health, culture and education. Numeracy, literacy and multi-media skills and activities, like making picture books about cooking the traditional way in the ground, are built into these activities.
One of the primary aims of the Futures Club is for kids and their families to get exposed to semi-structured learning and child development activities as a way to prepare them for a school environment, and to encourage a culture of learning, literacy and numeracy. Another primary aim of the project is to model to mainstream educational institutions ways to work with Aboriginal kids and families that supports rather than alienates them from education and learning.
Jalaris is building on its track record of building bridges between the health services and the community, and the cultural change that has been achieved on both sides. The Jalaris Kids Future Club extends this work into education.
The club will also focus on the preparation and provision of healthy food. It provides a safe and supportive play environment for local Aboriginal kids, some of whom never get a chance to play and be kids due to the chaotic and unsafe household environments in which they live. When not on outreach the Jalaris health caravan will be operational at Jalaris' Centre. This will provide access to basic health information and care for kids and their families in the familiar environment of Jalaris.
Family Support and Health Outreach Service
The second delivery service of the Jalaris Kids Future Club is continuation of the Family Support and Health Outreach Service. Membership of the Kids Future Club is by household - not solely for kids. In other words, if a kid in your house is a member, you become a member too. We have learnt over the years that it is really important to create activities and structures that encourage the whole family to be involved in things to support kids, while still keeping the kids at the centre of our programs.
The outreach service, with collaborating health practitioners such as the child and maternal health nurse, will pay a visit to each household who has kids involved in the Kids Future Club at least twice a year, talking with all family members and giving them access to the mobile clinic. This serves multiple purposes. The first is to provide ongoing family and health support to those householders, and to identify issues in the broader family and household unit that may be impacting on the kids. Secondly, it is an important data collection process that will allow us to track the health and well-being of the household over time. This will form an important part of the long term evaluation of Jalaris' program.
One of the biggest challenges to the viability of this kind of grass roots community controlled work is training and supporting young Indigenous people to do the work and keep it running into the future. Over the past four or five years of operating on short term funding cycles, we have struggled to provide adequate training and career development opportunities to our young workers. Funding did not allow it and training was linked to CDEP programs and available TAFE courses, which more often than not did not meet the specific needs of the work.
Now we face a very real risk of having no skilled local Indigenous people to continue the work should one of the key family members get sick. Consequently, a key part of the Jalaris Kids Future Cub program is a staff training and development program to develop local capacity in child development and education, health, nutrition and administration. However, to do this we need secure funding to offer real jobs to young
Indigenous workers and partnerships to deliver culturally and contextually appropriate targeted training to people on the ground in Derby.
Research and Evaluation
The other capacity building element of the program is research and evaluation of the process and impacts of the program. Jalaris have been doing action research evaluation n for over four years now, and through this process have come to see how research about the processes and outcomes of our work is a vital element in creating long term and contagious improvements to Aboriginal health and education practice and policy.
What we would like to do is undertake a longitudinal research project on health and development outcomes of kids and families involved in the Kids Future Club, using the health outreach service and education and development measures with kids participating in club activities.
We've also identified a number of issues impacting on Aboriginal families engagement with health and education services that we would like to do some more in-depth research into. These include intergenerational experiences of education and their impacts on attitudes to education. Jalaris sees such research activities as important capacity building opportunities for young Aboriginal workers.
This program builds on the 12 years of community work that we at Jalaris have been doing and has emerged from on-going community consultation and action learning about effective action in the Derby Community.
The bad news is that although this kind of work is exactly what research such as the WAACHO survey shows would be beneficial, and evaluation shows that it is achieving significant, albeit early, outcomes, Jalaris is almost out of funding.
After four years of funding from the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS, now FaCSIA) we have been informed that we have received all the support that this Department is willing to offer.
Jalaris has one year left of funding from Lotteries West, which has provided a third of the budget needed over the past 3 years. We have also received assorted small grants and donations from numerous other groups, many of whom are keen to continue to provide support but don't have the resources to fund the whole program.
Jalaris has a strong commitment to early childhood development, a track record of achieving outcomes, is locally based, developed and owned. Without Jalaris many Aboriginal families in Derby will struggle even more than they are today. But perhaps more significantly, without the work that we are doing the kids of today and tomorrow will certainly continue to be trapped in the cycles of disadvantage that we have seen in the past and are still experiencing.
Innovation is happening now, but to become contagious it needs to be supported, celebrated and built upon, not allowed to fade into the past.
Jalaris seeks to provide alternatives to the silo approach to health and education, to use research and learning to inform the way that things get done in Derby, to work with service deliverers and recipients to do things more effectively and to understand the context in which the issues arising are embedded. We provide opportunities for more effective local action, and show people how things can be done better.