James Madison University

Meet Kait Custer Bilston

PHOTO: Kait Bilston

Kait Custer Bilston
Graduate – December 2009

In April 2010, I started working for the Australian Red Cross Young Parents Program (YPP) in a child protection role. YPP has three components, Residential, Outreach and Aftercare. The Residential program provides 24 hour support, accommodation and intensive case management to young women aged 13-19. The Outreach program works with young women and men aged 19-23, providing safe housing and intensive case management. Both Residential and Outreach clients participate in educational studies and are supported by volunteer tutors. In addition, clients attend a weekly playgroup with their children and a parenting class while their children are cared for by volunteers. We work from a strengths based perspective, aiming to address the bio psychosocial factors affecting each client and their child (ren). I began my career with YPP as a Residential case manager and have recently moved into Outreach.

There was a steep learning curve when I first began – not only was I learning to navigate the professional world but I was also learning about parenting newborns and, in a sense, adolescents! Looking back I am amazed by the child protection knowledge base I have gained and recognize that YPP has helped shape my future professional and academic aspirations. I now have a keen interest in child development and a greater understanding of the impact of trauma on children and adolescents. In future, I hope to continue expanding my knowledge and practice skills while working with young parents.