Amanda Carle of Kincumber is celebrating 10 years of supporting young parents all over the Central Coast in her role as a case worker for the Benevolent Society.
With a background in early childhood teaching and the disability field, she soon realised that outcomes were best achieved when working with complete family units and switched to case work many years ago.
“I have worked with various not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) ever since and even worked for the Benevolent Society for an 18-month stint some years ago but this time it has been 10 years in a job I love,” she said.
Under a program funded by the Department of Communities and Justice, most days see Carle behind the wheel, driving all over the region either to see a family in person at their home or a community space, or to attend a playgroup at a community centre and connect with families there.
She supports families where the parents are 25 years old or younger, with the youngest parent she has worked with just 17.
“I am constantly amazed and impressed by the focus and commitment that the young parents bring to their new role,” she said.
“I didn’t expect to be quite so inspired by them.
“In terms of us raising happy healthy children, the cost of society not getting things as right as we possibly can is massive and can last a lifetime.
“I think that parenting is the most important job on the planet, so supporting parents to reach positive outcomes is something I’m very passionate about.
“I’m really loving working specifically with young parents now as that’s where the biggest gains can be made by families, setting up best futures for their little ones.”
Carle said having a strong local knowledge increased her understanding of communities and support services.
“The professional relationships formed over many years really help in getting great outcomes for families too,” she said.
Carle said COVID-19 had presented many challenges for young families.
“Most young parents are experiencing pregnancy and parenting for the first time,” she said.
“Due to COVID restrictions, they have been unable to connect with loved ones or share in those vitally important social connection opportunities, like new parent groups and playgroups.
“The need for support services like ours has increased, as families have been so much more isolated, particularly at a time when tensions, domestic violence and mental health issues have hugely increased.
“Many of these young parents are quite isolated in terms of personal supports and some have had a pretty tough time of it.
“That extra support in linking them with organisations which can help can be invaluable.”
A Benevolent Society spokesperson said according to NSW Communities and Justice, in 2018, 101 mothers aged 19 and under gave birth in the Central Coast district.
This accounts for 2.7 per cent of all births in the district, which is a higher proportion than the NSW state average of 1.9 per cent.
Teenage parenthood is associated with many challenges, like low socio-economic status, educational under-achievement and drug abuse, the spokesperson said.
Young parenthood can further entrench and increase some of these problems.