Opinion: My experience of foster care in Brighton and Hove

Katie
Katie

My name is Katie, and l am a care leaver.

I am fortunate to have been placed and remain with only one long-term foster carer since the age of four. However, when I explain this to people, many assume it’s been an easy journey.

It’s certainly not been easy, nor has it been perfect. But living with any family isn’t perfect, and that’s what family life is all about.

It’s important to have people there to support you, inspire you, but furthermore to discipline you, and tell you right from wrong.

I want to start by telling you a story that will forever be embedded in my foster carer’s heart and in my own.

Years ago, when I was very young, I attended a foster carers Christmas event organised by social services with my short-term foster carer at the time, when all of sudden I just stood up and started walking my first few steps for the first time.

However little did we know, Sonia, the foster carer that I have now lived with for the past 17 years, was in that very room, at that very time, and witnessed me walking my first few steps.

When my foster carer tells that story I can just see the pure warmth that her heart feels. We believe that story is just a true example of how faith really can exist in life.

Because after one overdue short-term placement, and two-failed adoption placements before even the age of three, some could say that social services have been in my life since I was born.

My foster carer has always said that nobody has the name title ‘Mum’ just because they have given birth to you; that’s just the power they feel over you.

But for me, my foster carer will always be my Mum because of her unknown presence at that mince pie morning, and then for the past 17 years that she has committed herself to me, and my older brother as a parent. I will never be able to repay that commitment, but I just now live everyday to make her one proud parent.

I matured like any normal child in school, however school is never easy for children in care.

Of course there were difficulties for me at school, and there were many bullies, and then there were my GCSE exams. But I didn’t realise how important my education was to me until I left school with average GCSE results and started a three-year journey at college.

While at school I always exceeded in creative art subjects like dance and music, but deeply struggled with maths and science.

Once I left school, I was really unsure about what I wanted to study. But from participating in the Rhythmix Music group each week at school, I realised that I wanted to study A-Level music, because that was always what made me happy.

I auditioned and got accepted into Brighton’s Private Modern Music Institute. I then finished my one-year course at BIMM, and started two-years at Worthing College.

I studied A-Level business and photography, and had to retake my GCSE Maths. I left college with AAB in my A-levels results but didn’t get accepted into university to study business, because I didn’t have a C in GCSE Maths. I am now studying GCSE Maths part-time at Brighton City College, now my fourth attempt.

After not getting accepted into university last year, I had to reconsider what I wanted to study and what I wanted to do once I graduated.

I discovered Falmouth University in Cornwall, and attended an open day late last year. I then reapplied for UCAS and got offered an audition and interview at Falmouth University. In March this year I opened an email from the university saying that I’d been accepted with an unconditional offer to study a Music, Dance, Theatre and Entertainment Management Degree; Falmouth is the UK’s number one creative arts university!

I will not let negative experiences from my childhood stop me from achieving excellent accomplishments in my adulthood. I believe that every child in care with a supportive foster carer, and dependable social worker should be able to achieve nothing less than pure excellence and fortune within their education and future employment.

I would just like to say thank you to the individuals who have watched and supported me growing up, and who have helped me to achieve in my adulthood. My complete appreciation to the Rhythmix Music group, the Virtual School Dance group, and the Fostering Care Support team. Because if these activities weren’t available to me while I was growing up in the care system, then I wouldn’t have made some lifetime long friendships with other young children and adults who are in the care system.

If I haven’t of had such excellent educational support from social service whilst at school and college, then I wouldn’t have just been accepted into university; and I wouldn’t have the confidence to share my story and hopefully inspire other young people growing up in care. My experience has taught me never to let the past define my future, anything is possible.

If you would like to find out more about fostering, visit: www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/fostering