How many kids have you got?

July 21, 2009

As you can see I haven’t blogged for a while but, it is tough to fit everything in when you’re a parent to 20 kids.

Alright; I’m ‘only’ a corporate parent, and they are over 18, and they don’t actually live with me (actually lots of them are only those faceless scallies that you see on the street that’ll never amount to anything and people cross over the road to avoid) but- THEY ARE MY RESPONSIBILITY.

Do you have kids?
What are they like?
What would you do to stop them feeling pain, committing a crime, becoming homeless, going to prison.
I bet you’d walk over hot coals- I would.

I only met my kids when they turned 18 and I can actually only be their parent until they’re 21 (or in the unlikely event that they do continue in education, until they’re 24) and, to be totally honest I am actually only legally obliged to see them once every 12 weeks- 4 TIMES PER YEAR. Yeah, that’s right government…that’ll be enough to keep them on the straight and narrow,
get them into education or a work placement,
help them to find independent accommodation in the borough that they WANT to live in, not the only one that’ll agree to take responsibility for them,
make them genuinely believe that they are worth something
and they can achieve
and they do deserve better
and to deal with any of the other day to day issues that they might be struggling with over these three years.

The governments Every Child Matters agenda states that all young people deserve the following:
To be healthy
To be safe
To enjoy and achieve
To make a positive contribution
To achieve economic well-being

I agree whole heartedly with these objectives, but I don’t think that they can be properly and fully achieved in just 3 years.

· I think that any young person needs a stable home, preferably their own family but, if not, then a long term, stable loving, foster placement. Not like one of my kids who can list well over 20 placements that she’s had in the last 10 years (she’s now 20)
· I think that I think that any young person deserves to feel healthy and safe, to have the knowledge and understanding of what will keep them safe, mentally, emotionally, sexually, physically. Not like one of my kids who has a rare form of asbergers but is currently sofa surfing because he hasn’t yet got to the top of the council housing list. He can’t cope with going into a hostel as he doesn’t feel confident with people that he doesn’t know.
· I think that it is incredibly important that all young people have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to society, several of my young people were really interested in going on a weeks volunteering trip to Bulgaria with Vinvolved and attended interviews but…it was cancelled at the last minute due to a lack of interest.
· I believe that achieving economic well being is currently a distant dream for my young people; currently only 5 out of my 20 have a job.

The Banardos advert couldn’t be more true and it has to stop.
All to often meeting kids aged 18 is 10 years too late. They don’t trust people, they’ve been let down and have left school with few qualifications and low self esteem. Then, just when you build a relationship with them, they open up and you really get to know them, you close their file and that’s it, they’re on their own again (another point to note; the average age children leave home now is 27- unless they’re care leavers…)

As I say every time; it wouldn’t be good enough for your kids, it wouldn’t be good enough for my kids so WHY is it good enough for these kids?

ANSWER…It’s not.

Please direct others to the blog- every little helps!




Journey of a care leaver

June 14, 2009

Had a restless night wondering how I was going to start on this blogging thing- there is so much to say about the journey of a care leaver. I went through my case load in my head and once again felt as if I am bearly scratching the surface of the level of support that some of them need. At least now- with the help of @hubmum I am letting people know about the gaps and short falls in the support offered to young care leavers. Is this a rant or is it a blog- not sure yet but I had to start somewhere! Let me know.

At some point I want the young people themselves to be blogging to make people aware of their lives but, in the interests of getting this out there asap I thought I would just give you some basic facts- are you ready?

I have a case load of around 22. Of these young people three will be attending court this week for offences such as breaching probation orders and common assault.

Two of them are young mums- though more of them have been pregnant

One of them is at uni- not a coincidence that they are also one of the 3 that was in a stable foster placement until the age of 18.

At least 7 of them are suffering from mental distress- surely not a coincidence either that one of those can count over 20 placements during their time in care?

Three of them are working and living independently

At least 5 of them have serious drug reliance issues including heroin and cocaine

I could go on…..

Our charity does a huge amount of good work for young care leavers but I still feel that our hands are tied in so many ways- Time and money are the principal issues (that old chestnut!) we simply don’t have the time available to offer the high level of support that some of them need. We can’t physically drive them to their first day at college or work- granted, they might not all want that, but I would like to be able to offer that time and show them that yes we do care that much. We can’t support them in all the areas they need so we have to sign post them to other support workers- drug and alcohol specialists, education support, teen-pregnancy advisors, housing support…the list goes on. That then means that they have more people in their lives which is often something that they have said they can’t manage- their lives are too chaotic and they struggle to trust and build relationships anyway- let alone with so many new people.

For me the bottom line is this- young people need better care. They need it earlier than 18 and they need consistancy in who their worker will be. At the moment they have a social worker (usually lots of social workers due to agency staff and people leaving the posts for all the reasons we are reading about- save that for another time) so, the social worker gets to know the case, then they turn 18 and the case is transferred to us. Just as they are expected to become independent adults they are meeting someone new, someone who doesn’t know them- only the file and someone else that they are expected to build a relationship with. RUBBISH. It wouldn’t be good enough for my kids (don’t have any yet but you know what I mean), It wouldn’t be good enough for your kids, so why is it good enough for them?

I will be writing again- I am sure today will bring up fresh frustrations for me to tell you about but really I am looking to raise the profile of care leavers and improve the support available to all of them- all ideas welcome!!


Corby. x