“One of the first things Jess learnt at school was that she’s not like the other kids. … and that breaks my heart.” – Maria*, Jess’ Mum.

jess and her mum maria back to school

Jess has learnt she’s not like the other kids at her school.

“One of the first things Jess learnt at school was that she’s not like the other kids. … and that breaks my heart.” – Maria*, Jess’ Mum.

Maria has worked her whole life, taken multiple jobs and completed further study so she can provide the best she can for her family. As a single parent she always struggled, but got by. But then everything changed for the family when Maria fell seriously ill and was unable to work. Barely scraping together enough money for food and rent – there was now very little money left for school supplies like uniforms, excursions or new books.

Maria’s heart drops each year as the first day back to school approaches, knowing she has to explain to her children why they won’t be taking new supplies with them. “The other kids have all the nice supplies and backpacks and and pencil cases and my kids have a handful of used pencils they put in any old bag we can find around the house. The other kids notice it and ask questions, and that just makes them feel worse. I feel awful.”

At just 9 years old, Jess is already three years behind in her reading, and struggling with writing and maths.

Going without extends far beyond what’s in her children’s school bags. For years, it’s been a struggle each day even getting Jess to school. Jess puts off leaving the house until the last possible moment. She doesn’t want to be at school at all. It just reminds her that she looks and feels different to her class mates – a reminder that the lives in poverty.

When Jess fell further and further behind in her learning she decided the best approach was to say less: to be quiet, not answer. To just say nothing. Maria knows that without help Jess will just fall further behind.

sponsor a child like jess to stop them falling behind in their learning

At 9 years old, Jess is already three years behind and struggling.

Children living in disadvantaged families are four times more likely to start school behind.

Children living in disadvantaged families are four times more likely to start school behind.

Jess is just one of the staggering 1.1 million Australian children and young people living in poverty1. These children don’t choose to live in poverty; they fall into it through circumstances beyond their control. You can see it in the worn out uniforms they wear and the way they avert their eyes instead of answering a question in class. These children, just like Jess, are acutely aware they are missing out and falling behind.

When they start school, children living in disadvantaged families are four times more likely than children from advantaged backgrounds to be behind in the skills they need2 and lacking the essentials they need to fully participate in their education. Without the skills and support they need to keep up in class, by Year 9 children like Jess will be about three years behind in their reading and maths skills3 and the longer they go without help, the more difficult it is for them to participate in class and start catching up.

For $52 per month you can make a lasting difference to the life of a child like Jess. Together we can give some of Australia's most vulnerable children the support they urgently need.

Will you please provide life-changing support for a child like Jess?

The new school year is a chance for kids like Jess to start afresh. By becoming a sponsor of a disadvantaged child, you can give them access to school essentials and the ongoing extra educational support that they need. Because of you, they can catch up, keep up and fit in at school. Your help will empower them to improve their life circumstances – and all through supporting their education.

For Maria, not having the resources to help Jess was heartbreaking, “Jess had to submit an essay at the start of the year. She only wrote three lines and the spelling was so bad I didn’t even know what she was trying to say”. But everything changed when Jess’ teacher put Maria in touch with The Smith Family.

sponsoring a child like jess helps them to catch up in class and fit in at school

Sponsor a child like Jess today and you can give them the ongoing extra educational support that they need.

Because it takes a big caring family to raise a child, each student is paired with two sponsors. This ensures your sponsored child receives life–changing, comprehensive support as long as they are at school.

* Maria and Jess' name, location and associated images have been changed to protect their identity.

1 Poverty in Australia, 2018, ACOSS / UNSW Report.

2 AEDC 2016. Australian Early Development Census National Report, 2015.

3Thomson et al. 2017. PISA 2015: Reporting Australia’s results.