It has certainly been a busy and productive six months for Kids Like Us (KLU) since the challenges of the pandemic began to emerge in March. At that time KLU was delivering largely face to face activities for their 2e community from there headquarters in Beaumaris. As “lockdowns” were rolled out across Melbourne and face-to-face contact was banned the KLU Team with Catherine Kirby’s superb leadership were required to “pivot” to an entirely on-line delivery model – they achieved this massive shift within a week and the programs hardly skipped a beat.
In fact, the new delivery model has allowed KLU to extend their reach even further and they are today offering services to a number of 2e’s who live outside Melbourne. This had always been a goal, and it took the shock of the pandemic to give KLU the confidence to expand. In recent weeks there has been some re establishment of the face-to- face model under strict hygiene guidelines but the virtual model is certainly here to stay and will be a vital part of KLU’s delivery for the future.
Demand for KLU services has also increased dramatically during the pandemic. With 2e students forced to home-school the added pressure on many families has been enormous and they have reached out to KLU for the special support of there special family members. And the support services now also embrace the families as a whole with special groups for parents established to help them through these challenging times.
And while all of this was going on at KLU, the application for accreditation of the Tombolo Academy for 2e students was progressing in the background. Originally planned for a mid-year launch the Tombolo Academy finally passed the accreditation hurdles earlier this month and is now on track to open its doors to the first cohort of about 15 students in the first term of 2021 (February). Applications are now rolling in and the Tombolo Team is busy recruiting staff for the Academy and preparing the physical facilities. In addition, management systems need to be established, budgets finalised, and operational procedures put in place. A massive undertaking. Tombolo has been fortunate to have support (on their Board) from two of our SVP Melbourne stalwarts – Wayne Saunders and Anne Warner.
Finally, back at KLU with enormous support and expertise from Melissa Grenville, the Friends of KLU fundraising program is ready to launch. After development of a Case for Support, the Team created a compelling brochure and is now seeking donations large and small to support the ongoing expansion of the KLU reach and also to ensure that KLU services are accessible to all who need them including those in financial hardship. KLU currently supports over 160 2e individuals with one on one support and has an ever-growing waiting list. In the words of one of the supported families:
“When we arrive at Kids Like Us, we feel immediately at ease. It is a place where my daughter can be entirely herself. Her strengths are valued, her challenges supported, and we as her parents are trusted” – Charlie and Ange
Kids Like Us continues to thrive and for all its success to-date there remains so much to be done to expand to meet the needs of an estimated 30,000 2e’s in Victoria alone.