With the support of the Latrobe Health Assembly, Ladder has scoped the feasibility of a family support program that would run in parallel to its Ladder Step Up Latrobe Valley program.

The need for formalised family support was first identified during COVID-19 when parents, carers and guardians of Ladder program participants were increasingly coming to Ladder seeking support.

“As a result of COVID-19, we saw an increasing number of parents seeking advice and support for their young person in regards to topics such as mental health, social anxiety and disengagement and behavioural issues,” said Ladder CEO, Stephanie De Campo.

Ladder undertook stakeholder consultation as part of this project and found that parents of previous program participants were highly supportive of the concept.

“Over 80% of parents of previous Ladder program participants felt that if they had been offered a program to get support and gain understanding around their child/ren’s behaviour that this would have strengthened their relationship with their child/ren. Providing a program that brings parents together where they can feel supported and be provided with tools that can support their parenting skills could provide positive change to their child/ren’s life and to the family relationships,” Ms De Campo said.

Parents, carers and guardians of Ladder Step Up Latrobe Valley program participants provided positive feedback.

“I would have jumped at the chance to do this parent program, to be able to network with other parents, get feedback and peer support. This would also show my child that I am invested in their needs and want to do whatever I can to support them,” a parent said.

“I think having this as an option would be good. It gives a common ground and provides peer support as well as not feeling so alone in your parenting,” said another parent.

“I definitely believe that having a support program would have been a benefit for me and [my child]. It would potentially give me an understanding of what he was doing in the Ladder program as well as how I could get him to communicate better with me about his feelings. The Ladder program was so good for him and his mentor was amazing,” said another respondent.

Along with parent consultations, Ladder also interviewed previous program participants and local service providers who all agreed for the need to create a family support program. A literature review was also conducted, and Universities have been consulted regarding how the program would be effectively evaluated and reported on. Following this, a Final report will be submitted to the Latrobe Health Assembly.

Latrobe Health Assembly Chair, Ms Tanya Rong said “Latrobe Health Assembly is focused on giving the youngest members of our community the best chance of leading a happy and healthy life and this starts in the home. There is no single roadmap to raising a child, supports are needed to help parents and guardians every step of the way.”

Ms Rong added “our goal at the Latrobe Health Assembly is to enable families in the Latrobe Valley to feel supported and confident in their parenting and relationships.”

“We thank the Latrobe Health Assembly for the opportunity to scope a Ladder Step Up Family Support Program. We expect that the successful implementation of such a program will improve family connectedness and that relationships will be strengthened within the family home for parents and carers that participate in the program. Ultimately, this will strengthen and sustain the wonderful outcomes that are already being achieved by Ladder program participants,” Ms De Campo said.