Care Leavers Speak Upby Augustine Veliath July 6 2021, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 1 sec
Augustine Veliath tells about Care Leavers and also explains what we need to do to support them.
Care Leavers are young people, who have lived in Alternative Care settings, either in foster care or in residential care as a child and have left them on attaining adulthood, which is mostly 18 years. Having lived in a highly protected and controlled environment till the age of 18, they find it difficult to live independently in society later.
The transition from living in a protective care facility to independent living often brings in a host of difficulties, due to the absence of a pivotal family-like ecosystem, minimal community integration, and limited ownership of essential resources, at the care setting like that of a residential care or foster care.
This leaves them with no confidence in their own agency, lacking basic life skills, and disrupted education, or no job opportunities, which crushes their aspirations. To settle for the early start, they are pushed to get into menial jobs and often get stigmatized in the society.
Having not experienced stability in their lives, these young people go through immense mental stress and have no access to support services. The outcomes then are logical – taking to streets, substance abuse, homelessness and unemployment, and hence pushed towards crime or not engaged in anything, often leading them towards suicidal tendencies.
Their unique experiences often put them as the most vulnerable youth in society, who need extra-care and support at the individual, collective, societal as well as national and international level.
Around 100 young people with care experience, from over 25 countries came together on a webinar on June 6, 2020 to explore and discuss the challenges faced by Care Leavers globally and how the COVID-19 outbreak intensified their vulnerabilities and suggested solutions/recommendations to ensure Care Leavers feel supported.
After two months of consultative discussions with experts, a declaration was drafted that identified eleven domains of gaps and offered recommendations specific to the issues affecting children and youth from Alternative Care settings globally.
Various Care Leavers’ networks from across the globe endorsed the same. The Declaration has been promoted by various national and international agencies as well. The Care Leavers have identified 11 gaps and therefore have given 11 recommendations to the world - to the practitioners and to the policy makers.
Here below I share their declaration as homework to everyone who works for children and young adults.