In Australia's diverse charity sector, there are thousands of fantastic stories about the impact charities have on their communities.
We recently spoke with registered charity The Pyjama Foundation about their work, the importance of donors and how they protect vulnerable beneficiaries.
What does your charity do?
The Pyjama Foundation is committed to changing the educational future of children in the foster care system and to therefore change the direction of their life path. The Pyjama Foundation trains committed volunteers from the community to mentor foster children in foster homes on a weekly basis. The volunteers meet with the children to read, tutor and implement educational play, while offering a safe and trusted friendship. We are currently mentoring 1400 children in foster care every week. Our program operates across Queensland, and in Sydney and Melbourne.
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part is seeing the children succeed in this program. We are witnessing the children being engaged in their learning and therefore achieving in school. The positive relationship which is formed between the children and mentor is heart-warming, and we get to observer the children have belief in themselves. In 2017 we witnessed the first foster children who had come through our program graduate from University.
What is the biggest challenge faced by your charity?
The biggest challenge faced by our charity is income generation. We raise 83% of our income in order to operate. A challenge is to have sustainable levels of funding in order to expand our operations. The number of children in foster care has more than doubled. When our organisation formed in 2004 there were 21,000 children in foster care in Australia, now there are close to 50,000 children in care. We have a great demand for our service. Not only have the number of foster children greatly increased, but this is the lowest educational pool of children in Australia.
How important is the support of donors and volunteers to your charity?
Donors are instrumentally important to not only our operations but also the success of our program. We rely heavily on donors in order to operate. Our charity operates heavily on volunteers, not only do we have 1400 volunteers mentoring foster children each week, we also have hundreds of volunteer hours help us with the administration and training, which makes our charity very cost effective.
What steps does your charity take to ensure it is transparent and accountable?
All our financials are audited by an independent auditor. We have asked our insurance company to do an independent audit on our operations to help mitigate any risks. This audit helped us improve our procedures and risk management. We regularly update our policies and procedures. All staff from all areas of the business attend regular training to update our knowledge on current information, ie Commission for Children and Young People training on the latest police check information.
Your charity works with vulnerable children, how does your charity safeguard and protect the children it works with?
Every volunteer has a ‘working with children check’. Every potential volunteer has a face to face interview, two reference checks, and if they are deemed suitable after these checks they are invited to our training day. At training we educate the volunteers on strict our polices and procedures. These include, Disclosure Policy, Safe Practice around children, Confidentiality, Privacy and Code of Conduct. All of our volunteers have photo ID cards. When the volunteers are mentoring the children they are supervised by the foster parent.
Find out more about The Pyjama Foundation on their website, or via their social media channels:
Interested in sharing your charity’s story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.