Above: Melissa Woods and Maha Wilson are both former recepients of The Smith Family sponsorship. Melissa is now a teacher while Maha is an actress. Their sponsorship broke the cycle of poverty.
Children’s charity The Smith Family is appealing to Australians for help as school goes back, with the launch of its 2019 Back to School Appeal.
With one in every six Australian kids currently living in poverty, thousands of students are now in need of support. The appeal calls for supporters to consider sponsoring a child, which covers school essentials, and out-of-school learning assistance.
Through referrals from schools, The Smith Family currently has more than 4,000 children from financially stressed households, urgently needing a sponsor.
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How The Smith Family’s Child Sponsorship Works
Each child on the sponsorship program is connected with a Smith Family coordinator who takes the time to understand their specific needs, and set up the right assistance.
CEO of the charity, Dr Lisa O’Brien, said helping a child have a quality education is a powerful way to break the cycle of disadvantage.
“We commonly hear from our sponsored students what a difference it makes to their lives, knowing someone out there in the community cares enough to support their education,” she said. “Our work over many years has also shown this long-term support can vastly improve the outcomes of these students.”
Children sponsored through The Smith Family receive the following:
- Financial assistance for uniforms, books and excursions.
- Personal support from a Smith Family coordinator.
- Access to extra learning and mentoring programs, such as the student2student reading program and after-school Learning Clubs.
Tough Time of Year for Low Income Families
Dr O’Brien said January is one of The Smith Family’s busiest times of year, with thousands of parents and carers seeking help for their childrens’ education. When families struggle financially, children often end up feeling left out, especially when they cannot get the right uniform, and can’t afford sport and excursions.
“We commonly hear from our sponsored students what a difference it makes to their lives.”
“The new year can be a stressful time for low-income families,” Dr O’Brien said. “With children starting back at school, the costs can really add up. No parent wants their child to start the school year feeling isolated from their peers because they don’t have a decent uniform, school bag or shoes. They don’t want their kids feeling left out from school activities.”
The Digital Divide
Dr O’Brien said there’s also an increasing ‘digital divide’ in Australia – between families who can afford the laptops and ipads that schools ask them to have, and the families that can’t.
Even basic internet access is unaffordable for many families. Nearly a third of the students on The Smith Family’s sponsorship program don’t have an internet connected computer at home.
A recent study showed many young people in Australia are going without the technology that their more well-off classmates use. Students end up battling to get homework done away from home, or simply being left behind.
Make a Difference
Student sponsorship starts from $52 per month for a primary student – that’s less than $1.70 a day. To sponsor a disadvantaged Australian child visit thesmithfamily.com.au/sponsor.