Foster carer perspective on care leaver pathway to University

From Mick Jewell, foster carer with Foster Care Co-operative..

I have helped two care leavers achieve their dream of becoming accepted at University after initially troubled, but eventually successful secondary school and College education. I was shocked to find the lack of help they receive with the organisation, realisation and financial guidance from the Government – it was non-existent.

The lack of help could have deterred them from realising their dream. It could easily have overwhelmed them into feeling under confident at an extremely vulnerable time. I’m sure it does for many young Care Leavers.

Luckily we had guided our own daughter through the process only three years previously. Otherwise our foster children would have been left with only an unqualified 18+ Local Authority ‘Personal Adviser’. This person had not attended, or aided anyone to attend University previously and thus themselves would have been very naive and under confident to what is available and how the system works.

Only a very small percentage of Looked After Children achieve this goal and the Government should be celebrating and rewarding this most amazing of feats. It is most definitely against the odds of many of their life pathways.

In my opinion, the Government needs to ensure that all Care Leavers are equal. Too many Care leavers are left to flounder and not realise their full potential. They have battled against the odds and have huge life experience and skills in many cases.

For all those care leavers who wish to go to University, I would suggest that the Government form a Central Team that advises, processes, organises necessary finances and also works alongside existing Foster Carers to ensure that these remarkable individuals are fully supported, guided and made to feel confident that they are still being ‘looked after’. Then surely many more would be ‘guided’ confidently along this pathway.

What has worked well in the opinion of others?

Does anyone else agree that it is time for the Government to set up an Education Advisory Team that ensures the pathway to University for all Care Leavers who wish to go?

The Rees Centre welcomes your comments on this blog post. We reserve the right to moderate any comments. Please note that any replies to your comments will come from the Rees Centre rather than the author of the post.


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One response to “Foster carer perspective on care leaver pathway to University”

  1. My partner and I are very new to fostering and are currently caring for an intelligent young man, aged 14. We are having difficulty with the slowness of the school admissions system so our young man is missing more school than necessary because of the ‘system’. That is not going to help him achieve his full potential and he would certainly be capable of attending at least college. Sadly, he is receiving all the wrong messages about it at present. However, my comment on the matter you write about would be to say that my own two sons needed support in various ways with university/work issues until they were at least 24 years of age, and that is coming from a settled home background. They needed to draw on the experience and wisdom of those with greater life experience, particularly within their family network. Such a network simply does not exist for all young people and an alternative, yet adequate, support network to help them achieve all their aspirations should be put in place.The amount of support young people need is hugely underestimated in many spheres of life and for LAC that is even more so. I agree whole-heartedly that the support offered is inadequate and the Government is letting these young people down. This could only benefit our society as a whole in the longer term.

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