Bradd heads up the team providing therapeutic care, support and a home to children aged two to 18 who have experienced significant trauma and can no longer live at home with their families.
Bradd holds a double degree in psychology and behavioural sciences degree and spent seven years in MercyCare’s Youth and Homelessness team before moving to head up Family Group Homes for the past five years.
He is passionate about advocating for the children in his care, putting their needs and wishes first and keeping them safe so they can have the opportunities in life every child deserves.
With high demand for foster carers in Western Australia, particularly foster carers able to care for sibling groups, MercyCare’s five group homes across Perth’s north play a critical role in caring for vulnerable children.
Predominantly sibling groups of up to four are supported 24/7 by MercyCare specialist carers to provide a stable and nurturing environment where the children can feel safe.
Like other family homes, our carers run the household, from getting ready for school, the after-school run-around getting children to extra-curricular activities like sport’s games, and dinner-time routines.
Every staff member is trained in Therapeutic Model of Care, with additional support for the children from our in-house clinical therapist with one-on-one counselling where required.
As one of seven organisations across Perth offering family group homes, MercyCare works in partnership with the Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support to ensure the best outcomes for the children.
Every child is different, so depending on circumstances and the child’s wishes, MercyCare works with the Department towards long-term fostering, reunification with birth parents or kinship care.
As a child there are those “first time ever” experiences. First time on a plane, first time first toasting marshmallows on the campfire, first time abseiling. It’s these joyful memories of a child that can build confidence, good memories and often shape the people we are today.
MercyCare runs First Time Ever Camps for the children in our Family Group Homes to give them these experiences and to build bonds with other children who may have had similar experiences in life.
“The camps give that opportunity for the kids to mix with each other, children that are going through the same things as each other, they can share stories with their peers and interact with the whole of the MercyCare team,” says Bradd.
“It gives them some time out, time away from the house and some amazing school holiday activities so many other kids get to do.
“The difference you see in the kids is that they are happy, they love the camps.”
The camps are run once a year, but Bradd hopes to build towards twice yearly depending on funds.
Most recently the children went to Woodman Point, Coogee to stay local, but in previous years have been to Darwin and Kalbarri.
“For the Darwin camp, it was the first time all the kids bar one had been on a plane. They did so many activities and they just loved it. It was also a great opportunity for the children to see our staff in different light too,” Bradd says.
“At Kalbarri we were lucky enough to have a lot of Aboriginal elders come and sit around the fire and tell stories to the kids.”
A solid base for our staff
Five years ago, MercyCare brought across an expert in Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) Framework to train our staff in this Therapeutic Model of Care.
The Framework is specifically designed for children and teenagers who have experienced complex trauma and addresses normative childhood development, traumatic stress, attachment, and risk and resilience. ARC identifies skills and competencies that children have missed out on due to impact by traumatic stress and attachment disruptions and addresses these for better outcomes.
This trauma-informed care framework also gives our specialised carers a solid base to care for the children, and themselves.
“To keep it simple, it is about keeping yourself calm so the children can mirror what you are doing. It’s about how you respond to a child and being able to put yourself in their shoes,” Bradd says.
In addition to ARC, MercyCare staff are also trained in protective behaviours and Safeguarding Children and Young People which MercyCare is an accredited organisation with the Australian Childhood Foundation.
Our Specialised Carers are assisted through MercyCare’s Mirrabooka office with training, management and peer support and debriefs.