On the surface, it seemed like 25-year-old Claudia Cotten from Grafton, didn’t need the support of VERTO’s ParentsNext program.
She was happily parenting her two-year-old daughter and wanted to study and start a career in childcare. But as many parents understand, Claudia found it challenging to balance all the competing priorities in her life.
“I had plans to commence study and work, but I also felt extremely maternal and protective after having my daughter. I wanted to care her for her full-time and resisted putting her into any formal childcare, which was making it hard to earn an income and support my little family,” she said.
That’s when she approached VERTO for help and was signed up to ParentsNext, an Australian Government initiative that supports parents with children under six to build the skills and confidence to return to the workforce.
"It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I suddenly felt so much support to make my dreams of studying and building my career in childcare possible,” Claudia said.
Initially, Claudia attended playgroups with her daughter to build confidence, connect with other mothers, and to develop a strong social support network that she could draw on for emotional and practical support when needed.
“My daughter loved the playgroup sessions and interacting with other little children, and I enjoyed connecting with other mothers. These sessions gave me reassurance that my daughter would adjust and thrive in a daycare setting surrounded by children her own age,” Claudia said.
“This also gave me the confidence to enrol in a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, which I was able to do online and juggle around my daughter’s sleep times.”
Claudia is now employed as an educator at a Grafton childcare centre, where her daughter attends five days a week. It’s been a big shift for the single mum who wanted to stay at home full-time caring for her daughter, but she is loving the balance of work, study and parenting.
“My VERTO mentor Brooke encouraged me to focus on being a role model for my daughter. This was the driving force behind my study and wanting to further my career, because I want my daughter to see that anything is possible when you put you mind to it,” Claudia said.
“Brooke’s continued support has been instrumental to my growth and confidence over the past six months.”
ParentsNextTeam Leader, Brook Slis, said seeing Claudia blossom into a working mother has been inspiring.
“We're so proud of Claudia for discovering the qualities and skills that make her a fantastic childcare educator and mother, and we can’t wait to see where the future takes her,” she said.
VERTO CEO, Ron Maxwell, said Claudia’s story was a great example to other mothers who may be feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenting plus planning a career.
“Entering the workforce as a parent of young children can be very challenging and daunting, but with support from the VERTO ParentsNext team, it doesn’t need to be,” he said.
“Skill development, encouragement and moral support are all crucial elements to returning to work, and our ParentsNext team work hard to give clients like Claudia the foundations needed to achieve their goals.
“If you’re in a similar position, or just a little unsure on your next steps after becoming a parent, I encourage you to reach out to VERTO – we pride ourselves on helping individuals with all their training, education and employment needs.”
For more information about ParentsNext and how VERTO can help, visit: https://www.verto.org.au/our-services/parentsnext
VERTO is a community owned, not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. We can be found in over 60 locations across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. For more information, visit verto.org.au.