Mumaleary's Blog

Cheaper than therapy

Thursdays Child

on October 4, 2013

This time last week I wrote a post on the differences between my life as a mummy and the lives that some care leaving parents live. You can have a read of it here if you like.

Today, I wanted to tell you about the transition between being a child in care and becoming a ‘care leaver’.
Just a heads up; this isn’t a light-hearted, humorous post on the trials and tribulations of a middle class mum (I’m not sure that anyone really knows or cares what class they are these days but you get my drift) it is my experience of the care system in our country today.
How children end up in care is often just a tiny aspect of their story- if they are lucky they will find themselves in stable foster care and with the support of a social worker will thrive. At 18 (or 16 in some Local Authorities), they will become a care leaver and they will work with a Personal Advisor instead of a social worker and that is where my role began…
So- the theory is that at aged 15 (or 17) the young persons social worker and their leaving care personal advisor will meet up to discuss the young persons situation. What they are doing, what support they need and any other relevant information.
Ideally the social worker and personal advisor will both attend the final two LAC reviews to  ensure joint working so that the young person has a concrete plan in relation to housing, finance, health, employment or education and all aspects of support necessary.
All the things that parents do day in, day out, for their children without giving it a second thought.
All of this should happen far in advance of the 18th birthday so that the young person isn’t left on their birthday not knowing where they belong and who to turn to.
However, for lots of reasons, this isn’t always the case.
One of my very worst days as a personal advisor was when I attended a final LAC review on a young persons 18th birthday.
The young person was deemed to be in a fairly stable placement with a member of his extended family.
When we arrived, the young person was at college. The family member announced on our arrival that they didn’t want the young person living with them anymore.
It wasn’t negotiable and they had to leave, today.
We tried everything, to no avail.
Moments later the lad arrived ‘home’.
He had to get his washing off the line, put it and some of his other possessions into a bin bag and go to a bed and breakfast which is where he was on his 18th birthday.
On his own. 
The cake that the Independent Reviewing Officer had bought to celebrate the ‘coming of age’ was utterly redundant.
A totally hideous day- for ME, so imagine how horrendous it must have felt for the young person.
So you see, nothing is black and white. Best laid plans and all that. And situations like this can make it impossible to build a relationship with the young person which will mean they do not access the support they are entitled to and can have a serious and lasting impact.
I want to make a change to this system and the first step is raising awareness of its shortfalls.
Thanks for reading.
Muma Leary.
XxxxX
I couldn’t end this post without making reference to the children in the news this week…

I know that over the weekend and coming days the media will be unpicking all of ‘the systems’ failures which has allowed children to remain with unfit parents and ultimately die in horrid, heart breaking circumstances  but, whilst clearly mistakes were made, I still truly believe that no one begins a career in social work and the supporting roles, unless they care deeply about the welfare of children and want to make a difference.

Who is to say what the background of the mothers who abused and neglected their children is and what abuse they may have suffered in the past themselves. I am not trying to offer excuses or remove blame, but clearly there is something wrong for anyone to behave in this way and they will need support too.

 

 

 

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15 responses to “Thursdays Child

  1. It’s not something I’d ever really thought about before, what happens to them when they leave care. It must be so difficult at times. Oh that poor boy on his 18th birthday, that’s awful. My heart goes out to him.

    • Mumaleary says:

      It is VERY difficult, for them and for the staff. There are so many rules and regs that get in the way when often what is needed most is a listening ear and some good old TLC. 😦

  2. How utterly awful for that young man. I hope that he was able to move forward from that situation in a positive fashion :o(

    • Mumaleary says:

      No, he wasn’t.
      I wish that I could give you a happy ending but he was evicted from his flat, left college without completing his course and totally went off the radar for sometime.
      He slept on the sofa of a friend for some months and the story was pretty bleak. As far as I know he is now living with a family member but…due to the age limits and the rules I can’t check or support anymore.

  3. must be heart breaking some times x

  4. This is a really heartbreaking topic. x

  5. Poor lad – things have to change!

  6. That’s just so sad. I really admire people who are trying to make a difference.

    • Mumaleary says:

      Thanks Alison.
      I guess the message I am trying to put out there is that everyone can make a difference just by remembering that everyone has their own ‘stuff’ going on and might need someone’s understanding or support whether they know it (or accept it) or not.
      Thank you for reading. X

  7. It must be so awful to turn 18 (or 16!) and have no where to go. SOmetimes I think we forget how lucky we are.

    • Mumaleary says:

      I couldn’t agree more and, had it not been for this job I know I would be far more narrow minded about the people we pass in the street but everyone has a story, a past and their own issues and deserves support and understanding.
      Thank you for reading. X

  8. Kate says:

    Just a very sobering reminder as to why we should never judge, you rarely know peoples stories. That poor boy, so sad. I used to be a family law solicitor and dealt with the cases at the beginning, you never think about where they’ll be when they reach adulthood. You are very right, this system doesn’t work, something has to change, young people need far more support!

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