A Care Leaver's Story

“As I start to fill out my leaving care plan I’m terrified of the obstacles ahead and the challenges I have to face.” – Female care leaver, aged 16, NSW

“I am 16 years old and I live in care. I have been in care for just over 15 years with my foster mum. The reason I was put in care was that my parents didn't look after me probably and my father abused me. So I ended up in care. Growing up was harder than other kids my age. I always had to make two of everything for my real parents and foster ones. I knew I was always different but I didn't understand what was going on.

“I grew up thinking I was worthless and a mistake and was bullied at school for being in foster care. As every early teen has their struggles I couldn't handle it some days. Other days were better than some. I didn’t have a caseworker for years and my family had no help with raising me. But a couple years ago we got one. It was a whole new experience for me and I wasn't ready for it. In my eyes, it's an invasion on my life because I just want to be like everyone else which is hard when you've got someone coming to your house every six weeks to see what you're up too.

“Even though being in care is hard and takes a lot of strength it can't be done without foster carers like mine and the final support we get. As I start to fill out my leaving care plan I’m terrified of the obstacles ahead and the challenges I must face things like taxes and cooking and housing and work and money, everything a basic adult needs. I have friends who are over 18 and still haven't gotten the extra support they needed and have ended up on the streets and had their agencies turn away from them.

“Therefore, I strongly believe the age for child care should be raised to 21 so children in care feel secure and like they will get taken care of.”