Give young people in the care system a voice

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My Goal: To make it compulsory for each Council in the UK to have a platform, such as an In Care Council of which young people who are in/have been in the care system are able to go and have their voices heard. Then for the Council to be required, without excuse, to listen to the concerns expressed and do something about it. Every child matters, and every child in the system deserves to have their voice heard. Therefore, we need a body set up to empower the young people in the system so that their experiences can be expressed and changes can be made, I myself have a few grievances I wish to be addressed.

We currently have LAC reviews for looked after children, one every 6 months, where all the professionals, (including foster carers and parents) involved in the young person's case come together to discuss the past, present and future; with an Independent Reviewing Officer chairing the meeting. However, it is of personal experience that these meetings are daunting for a young person and so the child's true feelings often go unheard. LAC's are often the product of inadequate efforts to give a young person a voice, a voice which is worthy of being listened to.  

I have been subjected to the care system since the age of 13. I am now 18 and officially a care leaver, but during my time labelled as a foster child, I always held onto the fact that one day I’ll no longer be a foster child, subjected to a failing, broken care system. One day I’ll be free to be self-sufficient, free to be me, away from my past, from the people who have failed me. This showed me that there are fundamental flaws within our social care system, for I was taken from a broken, abusive home, placed into a broken system, placed in an abusive foster placement, without a voice. Surely, there's something wrong with that? Surely the care system would free me from abuse, not make me want to escape the system in order to be free?

It is undeniable that our childhoods are the most impressionable, important times of our lives, in terms of our development, both emotionally and cognitively. It is in this time that we learn the mechanisms of working relationships, its the critical period where our attachments form. It is the basis of our whole identity, it shapes who we are, our values, our intelligence, our ambitions and who our role models are. It is so important that during this time we are protected, nurtured and listened to, and if the social care system fails to do this, once we're in their care, then something needs to change. It takes a lot of courage to share one’s deepest, innermost thoughts and experiences. But this is fundamental to changing the world, starting with giving every child/young person in the system a voice that collectively can make a difference. It is true that for every one of us who has fought to have a voice, there are many that will go unheard.

So, I ask you, to join in a plea to the government, to get formal action taken in order to establish a legitimate platform for young people in the foster care system. Nobody deserves to suffer, let alone suffer in silence.


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