Canberra College Cares (CCCares)

Fremantle Drv, Stirling, ACT, 2611

Formally established in 2005, CCCares is an alternate education and support program for pregnant and parenting students, seeking to complete their year 12 certificate and gain vocational qualifications. It is located at the Weston campus of Canberra College, an urban, twin campus government co-educational senior college. In February 2013, 152 students were enrolled in the program, primarily young mothers (145) and a small number of young fathers, young carers and students not achieving in mainstream schools. Students are usually aged 14 to 25, come from diverse backgrounds and many have disengaged from education for significant periods in the past.

How this program works

CCCares aims to provide a best practice model for pregnant and parenting students to access education. It adopts a blended and flexible service delivery model, working with several agencies to provide holistic health, education and welfare support and connections for young people and practical living supports. CCCares emphasises strong staff-student relationships within a relaxed and accepting environment, empowering students to seek solutions and take responsibility for their actions. Through an assertive form of outreach CCCares actively engages with young people who face barriers in accessing formal services and works to support their continued involvement in the program. The open door policy means interested young people can visit the campus and, provided they meet the age criterion, are welcome to join the program; partners of enrolled students can also access employment, health and vocational education services. Students may enrol in the program for up to 5 years, enabling them to focus on significant life issues when the need arises.

Open every weekday from 8.30am-4.00pm, the program is located in an open plan environment with classrooms, kitchens, playrooms, sleep rooms, change rooms, medical suites, gymnasium, hair and beauty salon and outside play areas on site. Transport is provided and almost all the young parents bring their children (under 5 years old) to school with them and look after them as they study. There are no set timetables. Staff work with students to develop personalised learning plans around their strengths, interests and needs. The program offers Year 12 certification, including Cert II: Business, Hairdressing and Beauty Services; and Cert III: Hospitality, Children’s Services and Business Admin learned in a Virtual Enterprise environment. Students may also complete White Card training and Senior First Aid Certificate. CCC provides access to community support agencies, advocacy, adult and child health services, mentoring, driver instruction, employability skills and agencies, and financial planning. Activities include social, emotional, communication and relationships education.


Positive outcomes, indicating the success of this program, include: students finishing school, finding a job, feeling ready to leave the program, developing life skills and knowledge to help with bills or housing, developing a sense of belonging and feeling they can contribute to their community:

Credentialed attainment: 12-15 students graduate with the ACT Year 12 Certificate each year.

Destinations and pathways: An example is provided through the case of a young mother whose participation in the program enabled her to complete Year 12, gain part time employment at an architectural firm, and apply for, and receive an offer, to study architecture at University.

Engagement and participation in their learning: Student enrolments increased from 14 in 2005 to 148 in 2012. 86% of students reported that they would not be attending school now if it wasn’t for the program and 100% are positive about their future education (2010). Substantial engagement in academic and social support programs remained, on average, at 80% from 2005-2010.

Health and well-being: 79 family groups saw the nurse and 100% of students rated the health care information they received from the Nurse as either helpful for themselves, their children or both (2010). 100% of students rated the information and support they were given to help with childbirth, childcare and child health, parenting skills and managing a home as useful/very useful (2010).

Productive Partnerships: 86% of students rated the links to government and community agencies as important/very important in providing them and their children with help.

External recognition: Recipient of the $750 000 Inaugural NAB Schools First National Impact Award (2009) and an Excellence in School Improvement Australian Government Award for Quality School (2008).

Wider influence: The program supported the development of The Australian Young Pregnant and Parenting Network (AYPPN).

Why this program is successful

Students identify the staff, a supportive non-judgemental environment, individual learning plans, and provision of childcare and transport as important in meeting their learning needs and facilitating their participation. Staff emphasises the one stop shop of health and education service and collaboration with a range of community and training organisations.

Sources of information

Canberra College (2013) school website (accessed 25.02.2013).

Clayden, P. (2010) Using the power of partnership to address important educational and social welfare needs. Schools First Conference, 19 March.

Gallagher, K. (2012) ACT Labor to invest more to make sure young parents get an even better education. Katy Gallagher ACT Chief Minister Blog, weblog, 7 August 2012.

Hay, I. (2010) Supporting pregnant and parenting young people to continue with education – critical factors for success. Canberra (ACT): University of Canberra.

ACT Government (2011) Models of Transition. An examination of three initiatives working with people with multiple and complex needs at transition points. December 2011. Prepared by the Social Policy and Implementation Branch. Chief Minister and Cabinet Directorate. ACT Government.

The Australian (2010) Media Article: Ensuring pregnancy is just a pause for teens.

Please note, where possible and appropriate, we have adopted the language and terminology used by the program sources (italic fonts) and referred to the most recent publicly available information.

This vignette was developed in 2013 by The Victoria Institute for Education, Diversity and Lifelong Learning (part of the Australian Government’s Collaborative Research Network) for the project Putting the jigsaw together: innovative learning engagement programs in Australia and supported by the Ian Potter Foundation.

Download Canberra College Cares (CCCares) [PDF]