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In the latter stages of pregnancy, young mothers may require access to material aid. Most commonly, you’ll advocate for items such as bottles, cots, clothes, bedding, bassinets, breast pumps and disposable goods such as nappies and formula.
Once the initial package of disposable material aid items is exhausted, material aid services are usually unable to offer disposable items on an ongoing basis.
It’s essential that you discuss a budget with your client that accommodates these expensive yet necessary items. Budget discussions should illuminate the advantages of cloth nappies and stockpiling certain items incrementally (for example, buying a packet of baby wipes with each visit to the shops) and stress the serious dangers of watering down formula. It’s important that budgets also allow for incidental purchases (such as medication if the child falls ill) to ensure unforeseen costs don’t derail a young parent’s finances completely.
The need for formula often presents challenges as it can surface unexpectedly and is notoriously expensive. For those experiencing acute financial strain, food vouchers can often be used towards formula.
As a young parents’ worker, it is helpful to have established networks and relationships with family/child-specific material aid agencies as well as local material aid agencies. For assistance in areas you’re less familiar with, call on your network of services to steer you to reputable agencies.
Child Protection or maternal and child health can also be useful in pointing you to material aid agencies in your state.
For smaller items such as clothes and bottles, Opportunity Shops can be particularly useful and budget-friendly. It’s important to note, however, that items purchased second-hand might not meet current mandatory standards with regards to safety; baby items such as cots, prams, child car restraints and toys often fall into this category.
Once a client’s child is born, they will need to secure the correct Centrelink payments. If all paperwork is prepared in advance and the child’s birth certificate is obtained as quickly as possible, all documentation can be lodged swiftly with Centrelink in hopes of minimising the length of time that a client receives incorrect payments. It’s possible to lodge certain aspects of the paperwork in the six-week period before the baby is due, which greatly streamlines the process of securing correct payments. It can be a time consuming and confusing affair, particularly for young parents, and so it’s important that you help clients navigate the system and step in to translate complex information where needed.