Today marks Care Day 2022, a day celebrating the successes and achievements of children and young people with experience of care.
At FCA, we work to ensure positive outcomes for all our children and young people, and that’s why our own 2022, #ChangeTheStory campaign is shining a light on all the fantastic success our young people have achieved here at FCA.
Throughout the year, we’ll be breaking down the stigma that surrounds children and young people within the care system, changing the narrative by giving them the chance to talk about their own journeys and how foster care changed their lives for the better.
Meet FCA Care Leaver Jess
Jess is a care leaver with FCA. She went into foster care at the age of 9 with her five siblings and has been supported by foster parents ever since.
Jess said: “A lot of people have this stereotype that foster kids are bad. Or that we are going to end up in jail. And that’s just not the case. Most of us don’t end up being bad, and don’t end up in jail.
“A lot of the time, especially with foster children, it is more about proving yourself because of the stereotypes that are associated with being a child in care. But you just have to ignore it, ignore what people think and what they say and believe in yourself.”
Higher education or university study has often been considered unreachable for looked after children, but things are now changing for care leavers. According to a 2019 government report, just 6% of care leavers went into higher education, and those that did attend were twice as likely to drop out as their peers.
Fast forward to the end of 2021, and the Department of Education at Oxford University said: “It is now estimated that 25-30% of care-experienced people will undertake higher education.”
Meet FCA Care Leaver Billie
Billie became a mentor for FCA, supporting other young people who were struggling with the care system. She said: “I helped FCA with some mentoring to help people who were finding it difficult. Lots of their responses were around how social workers couldn’t ‘get it’ because they had never been through the care system themselves.
“But I had been through it, and was actually still going through it. After mentoring the children I thought I actually can make a difference and I enjoy making a difference, so that’s when I decided to pursue a career as a social worker, and I am now studying at university.”
FCA wants to change all of the misconceptions surrounding looked after children. FCA’s Managing Director, John Platt said: “#ChangeTheStory will have a huge effect on what people think about these children when they are in care, and once they have left care to pursue their independent lives. We want to change perceptions and allow those who have experienced foster care to tell their success stories, because there are so many!
John continued: “There is no predetermined path set, often with the support, guidance and dedication from our parents and team, children and young people go on to achieve their full potential, be that buying a house, earning a degree, or landing their dream job.”
Meet FCA Care Leaver Paislie
Paislie is another of FCA’s care leavers who would like to complete her law degree to fight for change in the world of looked after children. She believes that people are more often than not unaware of what it really means to be a looked after child. Paislie said: “Some people don’t understand why people end up in care, and you can get a lot of negative comments, but I think that’s okay because they don’t know any better.
“In my opinion we are actually luckier because we get so much more support than children who are in their biological homes. We have more connections, more support, and I find we have greater ambitions because we know what it’s like to go without or to struggle. It gives us the fight we need to do a great job.”