Social Care graduate launches new service in Carlow

Tracy Collins, a graduate of the BA (Hons) in Applied Social Studies (Professional Social Care) and the MA (Leadership in Therapeutic Child & Social Care) has recently launched a new service in Carlow specialising in Residential Care Services for Separated Children seeking International Protection. Established in 2023, Colden Care was the brainchild Collins and her colleagues, Sean Denn and Deborah O’Keeffe, in response to the growing need to provide safe, regulated and quality-driven services for these children and young people.

We asked Tracy to talk us through her journey from Leaving Certificate, to completing her undergraduate and postgraduate studies with Carlow College, through to establishing the new service.

Pathway to Carlow College

At first, Tracy was uncertain of what to do after her Leaving Cert, however with the guidance of one of her teachers in St Leos College, she learned about the Social Care industry and chose that career path.

“I debated for a long time on what career to choose, but eventually I chose to do my Certificate in Carlow College and attended there for two years, before taking some time out”, said Tracy.  

During the break in her studies, Tracy welcomed her daughter, which gave her the determination to be a good role model for her, stating “do think this was the best thing to ever happen to me and I am very fortunate to have supportive family, friends and partner”. 

Tracy went on to complete the BA (Hons) Applied Social Studies in Social Care as well as the MA in Therapeutic Childcare (now called the MA (Leadership in Therapeutic Child & Social Care). With her newfound qualifications and skills, Tracy was confident she had chosen the right career path.

"I knew after my degree that this was the career for me. Academically I was never strong but I loved engaging with people and building relationships. I felt that with the course in Carlow College I could build on my strengths while also developing my skills in relation to academia."

Tracy felt her postgraduate studies, in particular, were the most fulfilling part of her journey, stating “it allowed me to do something for myself and not just for my career. I think the small setting was special and it was a very engaging piece.” 

Skills to make you job-ready

As a Regional Manager in Freshstart and a Director in Colden Care Services, Tracy acknowledges that her undergraduate and postgraduate studies helped her to develop the foundational skills that have seen her succeed in her career to date. Furthermore, it has given her the confidence and desire to continue to develop, grow and adapt as an individual and social care professional.

“I have continued to complete courses and insert myself into all different ways of learning to better myself and also to provide for the young people in a way in which they deserve. The young people with whom I work are the most important in all aspects of my career and my studies allowed me to gain an insight into how I can best work and give support to the most deserving. 

I feel like I have learned more from my colleagues and the young people than they will ever learn from me. I am very lucky to have had the experiences that I have”, says Tracy.

Choosing to build something new

Having worked with young people for 15 years, Tracy held a strong desire to enhance the services available in the South East for young people. Alongside co-directors Sean Denn and Deborah O’Keeffe, there is a combined experience of over thirty-five years working directly with young people in care and a wealth of experience in senior management roles.

Colden Care was born after seeing an need to support the young people who are in Ireland that have no one to support them on their journey and who are facing unbelievable challenges to be safe and survive. Drawing on the combined experiences, Tracy and her colleagues have designed a service that goes beyond the basic requirements outlined by TUSLA – with a strong focus on supporting service users  with integrating into the community and accessing educational opportunities.

I think we look at how we work as Social Care Professionals and we always want to do more. So, if we can give just one young person some compassion and hope for their future then I believe that would be the biggest achievement of all, ” says Tracy.

Fondest memories of College

Thinking back to her time at Carlow College, Tracy enjoyed the community feeling, knowing everyone on campus.

My experience in Carlow College has stayed with me through my journey and I believe it will continue to do so as I take on new exciting adventures.”

Applications are currently open for the MA (Leadership in Therapeutic Child & Social Care). Postgraduate applications for September 2024 close on the 31st May 2024.

To find out more about Colden Care, visit coldencare.ie

Colden Care are currently recruiting for qualified Social Care Workers. Details can be found at: https://socialcareireland.ie/social-care-positions/

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