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The change I want to see

Imagine being 17, living in a tent and heavily pregnant. Be inspired by the strength of a young mum to create a safe home for her daughter with the support of her caseworker James

Ella, mother

This story starts when I was 17, pregnant and sleeping in a tent. That’s when I met James, my caseworker. I know I would not have my baby with me now if it wasn’t for him. Even though I planned my pregnancy and was excited to have a baby, I needed help. From the minute I met James I thought hey, maybe this guy actually gives a shit.

I have had some horrible experiences in my life. I’ve been in foster care since I was 12 and bounced around different homes, resi care and my mum and dad. Most of the people that were meant to care for me did a crappy job. There should be less people like them and more like James. Now that I am doing well, I hope that sharing my story will help workers learn about what kids in care need.

Picture of Violet and her mother Ella in fornt of a lake.

Picture of Violet and her mother Ella in fornt of a lake.

Picture of Violet and her mother Ella.

Picture of Violet and her mother Ella.

James listens to me and gives me choices. He also genuinely cares, like I am an actual human being. He got me out of that tent and somewhere safe straight away. Then he found me two places to live long-term and asked me which one I liked best. I went with the one where I got to pick the furniture, because I wanted to choose Violet’s cot and make her room beautiful.

James was upfront when I asked if he was going to take Violet from me. I was freaking out about it. It was always on my mind because I was taken from my mum. James said that taking Violet was the last thing he wanted to do. He promised me that if he got worried about anything, he would tell me straight away and we would work on it together. But he was always clear that if Violet was unsafe, he could and would take her into care. This was hard to hear, but I knew exactly where I stood.

I made sure James had his phone on him 24/7 throughout my pregnancy and he didn’t let me down. When I went into labour I called James and he came straight to the hospital. Mum was in the delivery room with me and James waited outside. He was one of the first people to meet Violet. I will never forget he brought me a chicken wrap and a chocolate milk afterwards. I was starving!

When Violet was born I couldn’t stop staring at her. She was the most beautiful baby in the world. I love being a mum. The best thing is how I am her safe person. She looks to me first when she cries and runs to me for hugs. One of the things I am most proud of is how I taught her to soothe herself to sleep. When I was growing up, I slept in my parents’ bed a lot and I wanted Violet to learn to stay in her cot. She is a champion little sleeper.

Picture of Violet holding Ella.

Picture of Violet holding Ella.

The hardest part has been the decision to leave Violet’s dad Chris. I really wanted to be a family, because I never got to be with mine growing up. But when we were together he wasn't a safe person to have in Violet's life and James helped me to see that.

I would say the number one thing that kids in care need is reassurance. Sometimes the only constant person they have in their life is their caseworker. Caseworkers need to check on kids and make sure they are okay. I want to get a job and show Violet that her mum is strong and smart. My dream is to be a caseworker and be the change I want to see.

‘I want to get a job and show Violet that her mum is strong and smart. My dream is to be a caseworker and be the change I want to see.’
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Last updated: 19 Nov 2019