About The Pyjama Foundation
The Pyjama Foundation was founded in 2004 to make a positive impact on the lives of our community’s most vulnerable children. Alarmed at the statistics highlighting the poor literacy and numeracy levels of children in care, and how this contributes to a lifetime of disadvantage, Founder Bronwyn Sheehan was determined to make a difference. Bronwyn developed a program to ease some of the pressures on foster carers and empower these children to achieve positive outcomes.
The Pyjama Foundation has a learning-based mentoring program called the Love of Learning Program, which involves matching one adult with one child. We screen and train our volunteers, called ‘Pyjama Angels’. Our Pyjama Angels are matched with a child in foster care, they visit the same child every week, for 1.5 hours to read books aloud, play educational games and work on their numeracy skills. The volunteers help children develop their learning skills and perhaps more importantly, demonstrate that the child is valued as an individual.
Since inception ten years ago, The Pyjama Foundation has inspired many members of our community nationally to become volunteer Pyjama Angels, transforming the lives of children in care through literacy, numeracy and mentoring. Currently, 1,128 children in care are involved in the Love of Learning Program. Some of my volunteers have been with their child for eight years. The relationship which forms is fantastic, the children are often waiting on the footpath for their Pyjama Angel to arrive.
Founder and Director of The Pyjama Foundation and Queensland Australian of the Year 2009
When Bronwyn Sheehan realised that children in care were not being given the same opportunities in life as other children she decided to do something about it…
“I founded The Pyjama Foundation 8 years ago now, to contribute to the lives of kids in care. I wanted to do something that would be positive and that would have the benefit of changing the direction of their precious little lives. Education equates to quality of life. The reason I started The Pyjama Foundation is my oldest daughter Kate went through primary school with a child in care. I met her foster carer and I was blown away by her commitment to these children. This lady had been a carer for 30 years and had had over 100 children in her home. One day I was visiting her and she had a baby boy in her arms who was only 18 months old. This little boy had been in care for less than 24 hours, had the worst cold I have ever seen and had arrived in foster care in the middle of January with a Coles bag full of winter clothes. The reason he had winter clothes was to cover up his precious body, which was covered in bruises. He had big brown eyes, and if the eyes are the window to the soul, then his little soul had experienced far too much already. He broke my heart. I knew in that moment that I wanted to do something for kids in foster care.”
Children in foster care
The issue is that there are now 43 000 children in foster care in Australia. These children have been removed from their original homes for their own safety, and have often missed out on many positive experiences life has to offer. This pool of children also has the worst educational outcomes of any group of children in Australia (AIHW). Statistics also show that 92% of children in foster care have below average reading skills by the time they are only seven years of age, and it is a struggle for them to catch up. The single most important activity you can do to improve your children’s literacy skills is to read book aloud to them. So that is what The Pyjama Foundation does.
Our Mission, Vision and Values
Love of Learning Program
The Love of Learning Program© was developed by The Pyjama Foundation to empower children in foster care and spread a love of literacy and numeracy free of charge. Volunteers known as Pyjama Angels spend an hour a week matched with a child in care reading books aloud and playing educational games. The Pyjama Foundation also has a resource library in every region we operate where volunteers can borrow books, games and resources to take to the children each week.
The program currently operates throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Please visit our contact us page for a list of regions.
Shell Numeracy Module
In 2011 Shell partnered with The Pyjama Foundation to develop the Shell Numeracy Module, expanding The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning Program to include numeracy as well as literacy. Through this partnership, children in care are now offered a comprehensive education based program.