Thousands of children will start the school year without education essentials as disadvantaged families struggle with the basic costs of their child's public schooling, according to national children's education charity, The Smith Family.
As the largest charity providing educational sponsorships for disadvantaged Australian children, the organisation is urgently seeking 6,000 new sponsors to sign up to support the education of disadvantaged Australian children through its Learning for Life sponsorship program.
Annette Young, The Smith Family's NSW and ACT General Manager said that on the cusp of the new school year, the organisation is experiencing an influx of calls as parents grapple with the reality of having to send their children to school without the most basic educational resources.
"The truth is the costs of a child's educational essentials are out of reach for many disadvantaged families," she said.
"When a child doesn't have even the basics they need for school they can feel different and isolated. The consequences can be serious - becoming disengaged over time and at risk of dropping out of school early or altogether.
"And that's a real concern because we know that education is a pathway out of poverty.
"If we want to prevent disadvantaged children from the lifelong effects of hardship, the best thing we can do is to support them to succeed at school and complete their education."
The charity currently supports 33,000 disadvantaged children across the country through its Learning for Life sponsorship program, but the need is so much greater. The charity aims to support another 24,000 students by 2020 in response to this need.
"Many people associate child sponsorship with third-world aid, but the reality is there are 1.1 million children and young people living in poverty right here in Australia," said Ms Young.
"We are talking about Australian children who are growing up in low or no-income homes where affording life's basics is a daily struggle. These children are likely to live in single parent homes and their families may also be dealing with the challenges of long-term illness, disability, limited education or unemployment.
"Too often these family struggles that affect a child's home life, can flow on to affect their school life too.
The Smith Family's Learning for Life sponsorship program provides support through three key components:
- Financial assistance for education essentials including books and uniforms.
- A local Program Coordinator who works with the child's family and school and provides links to essential services.
- Access to a range of The Smith Family's learning support and mentoring programs.
Ms Young urged members of the Australian community to consider becoming a Child Sponsor and help make a real and lasting difference to a child's future.
"Our data shows that our approach – intervening early and providing long-term educational support for very disadvantaged young people – is working.
"For just $1.60 per day, Child Sponsors will give a disadvantaged child practical, long-term assistance that they need to attend school, engage in their learning and complete Year 12.
"With your support we can help end poverty, one student at a time."
For more information about sponsoring a child call 1800 633 622 or visit thesmithfamily.com.au.