Today (17 February) is World Care Day – an important opportunity to celebrate the rights, resilience and achievements of children and young people with a care experience.

There are currently more than 4800 children and young people in care in South Australia, living in foster, kinship and residential care.

This year’s theme for World Care Day is ‘Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, Embrace our Stories Instead’.

Among those stories is the journey of 18-year-old Jess Tresidder, of the state’s South-East, who told SE Voice she was about to embark on a double degree at the University of South Australia.

That followed Jess finishing Year 12 as one of the top graduates at Tenison Woods College, Mount Gambier, and receiving a Commendation from the Governor of South Australia.

Jess, who spent time in foster and kinship care, launched the popular business WildHazelDesigns, which sells custom-made keyrings on Etsy. She has worked in various volunteer roles including at ac.care’s Mount Gambier Community Centre.

Jess is now getting ready to begin studying a double degree in Psychology (Cognitive Neuroscience) and Business Marketing in Adelaide.

“I've written messages to people that have helped me, whether that be schoolteachers or foster carers, because you really just take a step back and realise that was a really significant person in my life,” she said.

“You realise the positive effects that they had, even though it might have seemed so minor at the time, and how it is just the little things that can really change your trajectory as a young person.”

Minister for Child Protection Katrine Hildyard said World Care Day was an important opportunity to celebrate the strength, resilience and many achievements of children and young people who grow up in care, and to acknowledge those who generously care for them.

“World Care Day is a chance to share their stories, celebrate their achievements and ensure their voices are heard, so we can work towards a brighter future for all children and young people,” she said.

“Since coming into government, we have committed an additional $155 million in Child Protection funding to support children, young people and their carers and families.

“Increased funding for post care support focuses on efforts to help young people leaving care to access education, employment and housing pathways; to have the best chance of thriving in adulthood.”

The Department for Child Protection is providing a platform for the voices of young people to be heard, through a range of programs, including its Child and Youth Engagement Strategy and No Capes for Change group.

DCP established the youth advisory group to help young people provide input about their experiences, and help improve the state’s Child Protection system.

The Department has a range of programs in place to support children while they are in care and after they leave care.  These include Investing in their future, a whole of government commitment giving young people with a care experience priority access to various services including health, dental, therapeutic support, education and training, recreation and transition to adulthood.

The Over 18 Education Initiative and Stability in Family-Based Care programs provide support for young people after they reach adulthood, and for their carers.

Photograph of Jessica Tresidder standing outdoors.