About Us

About UPA
Youth Care

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Youth Care UPA is a program of the UPA Far North Coast to provide a secure, safe and caring alternate living arrangement for those young people who cannot or choose not to live with their natural families.

It is our mission to provide an efficient and effective out of home care which empowers young people, and creates opportunities for their future to enhance their quality of life.This will be achieved in collaboration with the young person, their family and other relevant people.

Youth Care UPA plans for quality outcomes, while providing outreach and support to young people with identified needs.

We are also one of the only organisations in the field to work closely with the child’s birth family, facilitating change so as to address the cause of problems and work toward a positive outcome for all involved.

If you know a child at risk, please contact the Community Services Help Line on 13 21 11.

HISTORY OF UPA YOUTH CARE
Following the release of the Usher Report in 1992, which recommended the restructure of out-of-home services, there was a progressive move towards the placement of children within their own communities, in a family setting, rather than group homes or residential services.

UPA worked with the Department and other non-government agencies in the development of an overall plan for service models of care for children.

By 1997 the UPA’s Sunnylands Children’s Home had closed and funding was sought for the implementation of the new service, Kids in Care. The current name, Youth Care UPA, evolved from a Strategic Planning meeting in 2003, when at that time, children and young people were consulted about the name Kids in Care.

The children and young people decided that the change of name to Youth Care UPA reflects the service we provide to them (children and young people). Furthermore, the name change acknowledges the contribution, which UPA makes to the program. 

Aiden Thomas
Program Manager for UPA Youth Care Services. His work with Indigenous youth earned him Kids in Community award for Mentoring at risk youth. Aiden has worked in the Community Services Field for 20 years, in many and varied roles including Being a Foster Carer for 5 years.

Aiden is impassioned about working with the most vulnerable (and valuable) members of our Community ‘the Children’. Through a Person Centred, Trauma informed & Attachment rich model of care, support Children & Young People in reaching their full potential. When Aiden is not out saving the world he is spending time with his wife and 5 Boys.

Aiden can be contacted via athomas@youthcareupa.org and on (02) 6628 1255.

Tracey Anderssen
Has worked in the Community Services sector for over 15 years and is currently Youth Care Services Service Coordinator. Tracey began her career with Youth Care in April 2009 as a caseworker. Tracey’s qualifications include a Diploma in Community Services and Cert IV in Training and Assessment. 

Tracey is passionate about providing children and young people with opportunities to help them reach their life’s potential. Tracey enjoys working within a team of caseworkers and educational and health professionals who all have the same goal in mind. 

Tracey enjoys the beautiful, natural environments that can be found on the Far North Coast and can be found relaxing on the magnificent beaches of Byron Bay. If you can’t find her on the beach you can contact Tracey at Youth Care Services, UPA via email at tanderssen@youthcareupa.org or by contacting the Youth Care Services office on (02) 6628 1255.

Louise Lama
Is Carer Liaison for Youth Care Services, a role dedicated to the recruitment, training, assessment and support of foster Carers. She is passionate about recruiting foster carers who have the capacity for empathic, reflective and insightful practice in their caring role to meet and support the complex needs of the children and young people in our care. 

Louise joined Youth Care UPA in March 2013 while completing her Diploma of Community Services. Originally employed in an administrative capacity to support the Program Manager with the expansion of the service, Louise quickly identified a growing need for the recruitment, development and support of quality foster carer, to ensure positive outcomes for our kids. 

Louise’s career with UPA has spanned over 15 years, working originally in HR and financial administration before joining the Youth Care team. She has lived and worked in northern NSW for over 20 years following a sea-change long before the phrase was coined, chasing the dream of living and working in paradise. 

Louise can be contacted at Youth Care Service, via email louisel@youthcareupa.org or by phone at the office on (02) 6620 4400 or mobile phone, 0419121388. 

Sandy
Commenced work at Youth Care UPA in 2013 while studying the Diploma of Community Services, initially employed as a Contact Supervisor before commencing work as a Caseworker on completion of her studies.

It was during this time as a caseworker that Sandy developed a passion for understanding the emotional and behavioural challenges of children and young people in out of home care. It was natural progression for Sandy when she was successful in securing the position of Behavioural Practitioner in September 2016.

Prior to working in the Community Services sector Sandy worked as a Registered Nurse in both general and mental health settings, this background has supported her growth into her more clinical role as Clinical Services Co-ordinator.

Sandy has raised three beautiful children that she could not be more proud of and has had the luxury of doing so on the beautiful North Coast of NSW.

Sam Gilfillan
Is passionate about working with and supporting young people, and has been doing so in various roles over the past seventeen years. He has now been a caseworker at Youth Care Services UPA since 2012 where he enjoys working with some fantastic young people and their carers. Sam holds a Diploma in Community Services and is a few units off completing his Bachelor of Social Science.

Outside work these days he is gladly consumed by his new son, but as time passes he will be seen, albeit with a new sidekick, resurrecting his passion in surfing, making furniture and exploring the great outdoors.

You can reach Sam at samg@youthcareupa.org.

Glenda
Has been with Youth Care UPA since July 2018 in Admin/Finance roles.

Glenda loves knowing her work is going towards helping people.  “We have had a few young people turn 18 since I started, and I see them excitedly starting out in their independent journeys doing study, getting jobs and accommodation etc.  I also love seeing birth families supported and, when possible, it’s beautiful to see families being restored.”

Outside of work, Glenda likes reading both fiction and non-fiction and loves animals…at the time of this bio, she has 5 cats (2 of hers and 3 fosters) and 2 rabbits.

Marius
Joined Youth Care UPA as a caseworker in 2019. He is passionate about being in trans formative relationships that allow for positive changes in peoples lives.

Prior to working in the human services sector, Marius worked as a music teacher in Africa. Marius enjoys walking and cycling in the beautiful Northern Rivers area.

Tahlia
Is absolutely passionate about anything that helps children and young people…with a focus on anything that helps them heal.

“I feel honoured for the opportunity to be in a child or young persons life and to have the opportunity to be a support that might make that little bit of a positive difference.”

Tahlia’s other passion is gardening.

Cait
Cait joined UPA Youth Care Services UPA in May 2017 as a Caseworker.

Prior to moving into the Community Service sector, Cait worked as a Primary Health Care Registered Nurse with 20 years’ experience. Cait also has experience in residential care, as a Youth Worker. Organisation and her experience in working with a wide demographic of people are some of her strengths.

Cait has an interest in juvenile justice, welfare and social issues, specifically young people transitioning to independence and leaving care, reducing recidivism and homelessness amongst this cohort. Cait holds a Bachelor in Nursing, Bachelor in Criminal Justice, Diploma in Youth Work, Diploma in Case Management and Diploma in Counselling, and is currently undertaking a Masters in Child and Adolescent Welfare. Cait is enthusiastic and passionate about the protection of children and young people and is focussed on supporting foster carers and birth families to create positive environments for change for children and young people who have experienced early childhood trauma.

Cait is incredibly grateful to be a member of the UPA Youth Care Services team. Having an opportunity to work alongside a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who are an integral component of the community, is the highlight of her career.

Kay
Joined UPA in August 2018 in the role of caseworker where she brings 10 years’ experience in the out of home care sector.

Kay is an Indigenous woman from Kamilaroi nation working in the Northern Rivers since 1991. Kay worked in various roles and studied Visual Arts at Southern Cross University. Kay also possesses a Bachelor of Education, Diploma in Child Youth and Family Intervention and is currently studying for the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, due to graduate in June 2020.

Kay is committed to her role as caseworker and enjoys working with the many families, children and young people to support them holistically and culturally ensuring they remain connected to their families and countries.

Kay also enjoys making and creating artworks and is an emerging artist participating in many Indigenous events locally and further such as Dubbo and Sydney’s annual Black Arts Market. 

Ashleigh
Ashleigh is a Caseworker for UPA Youth Care Services.

A Wiradjuri woman from central west NSW - Ashleigh moved to the Northern rivers in 2016 to pursue a career in the community services sector.

Ashleigh has worked in the community services sector predominately within local indigenous organisations and communities in the Lismore area. She holds qualifications in community services, has training and experience in family finding, intensive family preservation and psychology based positive mindfulness techniques for children and young people. Ashleigh has also completed training in the therapeutic crisis intervention program which enables her to help carer’s and children/young people to learn constructive ways to handle crisis and regulate stressful feelings of hurt, failure, frustration and anger.

Ashleigh is best described as a self-motivated, reliable, empathetic individual who is child centred and focused.

Megan
Megan loves rainbows, yoga, vegetables, cow walks, travel and authentic connections. Since 2006, Megan has worked with children, adults and families with complex needs. Megan started with Allambi Care as a youth worker in the residential program, before transitioning to case work in the foster care program. In 2009, Megan commenced her training and role as psychologist, subsequently working as lead clinician for the Allambi Care clinical team. In 2017, Megan was subcontracted to Youth Care UPA, to assist establishing the clinical services department and internship program.

Megan is passionate about learning and sharing knowledge to promote recovery and resilience. Megan’s greatest joy is collaborating with youth, foster families and staff to promote positive change. Megan works as a Senior Psychologist, Board Approved Supervisor, Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst, and Yoga Teacher.  Megan is currently completing a Master of Family Studies. Influenced greatly by wellness and body-mind connection, Megan appreciates the opportunity to facilitate self-care programs for participants, staff and the community.

Cathy Turner
Joined Youth Care Services UPA in September 2016 in the role of Administration Officer. Since then Cathy has gained her MBA and has moved into the role of Business Manager.

Prior to joining Youth Care Services UPA, Cathy spent many years in the Education Industry honing her administrative skills. Organisation and a helpful friendly attitude are her specialties.

Cathy is a highly family orientated wife, mother and grandmother of three beautiful children. She is passionate about providing a quality administrative service within Youth Care believing the service is highly valuable to our community and children.

She is very proud to be a team member of a highly engaged, community-focused organisation having the opportunity to contribute to the well-being and care of the most precious gift of all, children

Cathy can be contacted at Youth Care Services, UPA via email at cturner@youthcareupa.org or by contacting the Youth Care Services office on (02) 6620 4400.

Kylie Johnston
Joined Youth Care Services UPA in September 2016 employment in the role of a Caseworker. Kylie works with a passionate and energetic approach to promote and support positive community and family interactions.

Prior to joining Youth Care Services Kylie spent many years working with children in various settings with qualifications in business, children services & Employment services Kylie is highly organised with the ability to relate & respond to various community needs. Kylie is now working towards completing a Diploma in Community Services and Case Management.

As a mother Kylie is aware of and has specific interest in the needs of children and Young people and their sense of well-being. Both professional & empathic, kylie enthusiastically undertakes her role with the intent to provide the best possible outcomes for her clients.

Kylie can be contacted at Youth Care UPA Services, via email at kjohnston@youthcareupa.org or by contacting the Youth Care Services office on (02) 6620 4400.

Hellen Hospers
Joined Youth Care Services UPA in November 2016 employed in the role of caseworker. Helen has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of New England. She completed a thousand hours of her social work placement between Juvenile Justice and Community Health in the Northern Rivers. She has worked in Out of Home Care since 2015 as a Caseworker. 

Hellen has a passion for the area of Child Protection and ensuring that children are given all the opportunities they deserve and more. She has a desire to continue to work within the Out of Home Care Sector to ensure children are growing in a safe environments, developing strong personal identity and positive birth family relationships. 

Hellen can be contacted at Youth Care Services UPA via email at hhospers@youthcareupa.org or by contacting the Youth Care Services office on (0 2) 6620 4400.