COVID 19 has truly changed the world. It has changed so much of our daily lives, it has changed how we relate to one another, how we learn, how we teach and how we provide vital services to some of our community’s most vulnerable children and young people. It has been a challenge to navigate a new normal and continue to ensure the children we serve receive the very best opportunities available to them.
My role at Parkerville Children and Youth Care is to manage our wonderful Education, Employment, and Training (EET) programme. The EET Programme is a unique programme that aims to prepare young people aged 14 to 16, who are at risk of failing school, for the world of work. Our goal is to teach programme participants basic work skills and encourage them to develop a solid work ethic. The programme is registered with the Department of Education and Training and caters for young people who have been excluded from school, received multiple suspensions, are chronic truants or school refusers.
When the restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak were put in place forbidding face to face schooling and contact, we braced ourselves for a very challenging period for our kids. The challenges for our young people in the programme who already struggle with education were already so great and COVID was yet another obstacle for them to cross.
We know from experience that the young people who join us in this programme are capable of wonderful outcomes, gaining skills that help them to thrive as they enter adulthood. What we didn’t know was exactly how they would react to the unprecedented disruption that COVID-19 had caused, but we were so pleasantly surprised.