Young people in state care
Tulsa, the Child and Family Agency is responsible for the care of children and young people under 18-years-old who are unable to live with their parents.
There are a range of different types of out of home care, depending on your needs, your situation, and the availability of services. The majority of young people living in state care are in foster homes. However, some may live in a residential home.
A care placement can be short-term or long-term, depending on your care order.
Types of out of home care
- Foster care – living with people who aren’t related to you.
- Relative care – living with relatives who aren’t your biological parents.
- Residential – living with a group of other young people with workers supervising. This is typically for people 12 years-of-age and older.
- Respite care – living in care for a regularly planned period of time such as one weekend, a month, or a week during the school holidays.
Under the law, the health service will remove you from your parents’ care if they have reason to believe you’re at immediate risk of serious harm or neglect. There are a range of different reasons why you might go into state care. Some of these include:
- your parents being unable to cope with problems or provide a safe environment.
- your parents are experiencing illness or depression, or there is a death in the family.
- sexual, emotional, or physical abuse.
- family breakdown.
- drug or alcohol abuse.
You’ll probably experience a range of emotions if you’ve been placed in state care:
- isolation and a sense of disconnection.
- a sense of being overwhelmed.
- stress or anxiousness.
- sadness or depression.
- sense of shame and distrust of others.
- happiness (possibly because you feel safer).
The situation may also be affecting you physically. For example, you might:
- feel physically sick, including headaches or migraine.
- find it hard to concentrate.
- sleep too much or not enough.
Moving into state care affects other parts of your life too, including school, and you can find you’re not able to enjoy the things you normally would.
Managing the situation
- Know your rights – check Empowering people in care for information on your rights. They’re an independent organisation working with young people who are in care of have care experience. Alternatively contact free legal advice centres online or call them on 01 8745690.
- Stay in regular contact with your social worker – social workers provide support and assistance to you during your placement. Your social worker is there for you and should support you in making decisions.
- Talk to your teacher/school – it’s understandable changes at home might affect your school work, particularly if you have to move to a different school. Talk to your school counsellor about issues that may be worrying you or ask your social worker to support you with this.
- Look after yourself – it’s important to take time out by doing something that you usually enjoy. Even though you might not feel like it, exercising and eating well can help. Getting plenty of sleep can also help.
- Get some space – sometimes getting some head space and a change of scenery can be helpful – it’s important to do this regularly. This might include going for a walk or listening to your favourite music, reading a book, going to the movies – whatever works for you.
Myths about people living in care
- They’re unloved by their families – there are many different reasons as to why young people might be in care.
- They must be troublemakers and lack respect for society – like most people, people in care usually just want to fit in and are all individuals.
- Being in care is a horrible experience – like most homes, there are good times and hard times.
Leaving out of home care
Like anyone else who leaves their family home, if you have been in care you need ongoing support to help you adjust to independent living.
The Child and Family Agency is not only responsible for you while you’re in care, but also for developing ‘leaving care’ or ‘after care’ plan. Speak to your social worker about how you can manage the transition smoothly.
What can I do now?
- Visit Empowering people in care (EPIC) - find support, help and advice, and learn about other young people's experiences in care. Call them on 01 872 7661 / 01 872 7652 or email info@IAYPIC.ie
- Check out The National Youth Council of Ireland - the representative body for national voluntary youth organisations
- Go to The Children's Rights Alliance - a group of 70 organisations which work to ensure the rights of children and young people in Ireland are respected. You can call them on 01 405 4823 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Child and Family Agency - responsible for all young people in care. Call them on 01 635 2854 or email them at email@example.com