Emma’s fostering blog
How is the system fair when ‘Looked after children’ can remain with their Foster carers until they are 21 but young people in residential homes are out in the cold on their 18th birthday.
On the night on their 18th birthday now adults, the services stop caring when they need them the most. Some care leavers are often emotionally young and have no one to rely on, but the current system doesn’t care because in the eyes of the law at 18 they are adults, so legally that’s it, they have done what was expected of them.
Ok so the government have put in place Personal Assistants for care leavers, but many are not social workers but people who obviously want to try and help but so often have no experience of ‘Looked after children’ or their journey through the care system.
Unfortunately most of the support workers are young so they have limited life experiences, and thrown in to the job, because there are not enough staff to shadow them or train them.
In the first six months of becoming a care leaver Steve had two changes of workers who both left because of high caseloads, too much paperwork, but the expectations put on them was as if they were social workers. Both went back to the industry they came from.
Since then there have been many more personal assistants come and go, they never stick around long enough to build a relationship.
Steve had spent 14 years of his life in the care system with too many changes of social workers and now happening again with Personal Assistants. He has since lost faith and he dreads the visits, the questions and having to repeat his story each time, so much so now, that they are lucky if he acknowledges them.
He is luckier than most as he lives with us and we continue to support him but many don’t because the government are not really committed, it’s just talk and more policies.
The whole system needs investment, it needs more carers offering ‘Staying Put’ it needs creative ideas for young people leaving residential so they can have an adult to support them through adulthood.
All care leavers deserve the very best, the system can’t turn its back on them at 18- age is just a number! For too long many children leaving care have had a raw deal, with no one to ease their path into adult life. Some care leavers who were in foster care still have the support of their ex foster Carers through their adult life. Unlike in residential they often have changes of staff and high turnover of staff. Who supports them through their adult life!
My thoughts are that we need to be every bit as ambitious for these young people as we would be for our own children and help make their dreams come true.
Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!