Our programmes with young people in care focus on helping them cope with the enormous emotional impact of being in care.
The current national statistics about educational achievement of young people in care are a particular disgrace to our society and we want to join with others in contributing to change them. One of the programme's aims is to help develop the emotional well being young people in care need to be able to engage successfully with their education.
Whatever the reason for being in care, it is often deeply unsettling for a young person. One of the ironies of a system that seeks to protect young people from any stigma associated from being in care, is that they may not know anyone else in the same position. Our group programmes brings together young people, often for the first time, to talk with others in care. The impact of these connections is often profound. Young people find enormous support and relief in finding others who can truly understand their experiences. Some of the emotional pressures they most often talk about include:
1. The impact of being moved from foster home to foster home.
To have had ten or more placements in a matter of years is the norm not the exception. Finding yourself in unfamiliar surroundings and with new ‘carers’ can make young people withdrawn and suspicious. It’s easier not to settle in if you expect to be moved in the near future.
2. The ups and downs of parental and family contact.
Many young people have regular contact with their birth family, but these sessions can be difficult and leave young people with mixed emotions. Sometimes parents fail to attend, leaving a huge impression on a young person’s self worth.
3. The lack of privacy.
Local authorities are required by law to carry out extensive reviews about the education, health and other aspects of a young person in care. These meetings are often attended by a large number of professionals and young people can find them extremely difficult.
4. The feeling of being let down.
Young people in care are often extremely angry about what has happened. That anger may be directed at their family, displaced to social services or surface in a school classroom. Many young people describe a whirlpool of emotions inside them that has no safe space to be expressed. Not surprisingly, self harm among young people in care is much higher than average.
The group programme explores these pressures but it also looks in depth at how young people can better cope with them. Growing in self esteem, discovering aspirations for the future and learning new coping skills are crucial stepping stones towards emotional well being.
We run children in care programmes across all Luton secondary schools and, where required, in other venues.