Can LAC Children Really Achieve?
There are over 90 000 Looked After Children (LAC) in the UK at present, with 70 000 living in homes with foster families.
I am one of them.
I have been a LAC child for over 5 years. At first, I felt really scared of a new beginning, living with people I had never met before. What would my room be like? What would my foster carers do and say to help me integrate and fit in? I was so nervous…… but I was lucky. My foster carers are fantastic and over time I got the feel of things; I began to fit in and feel at home.
It’s a great feeling when you're in a positive environment and you know you belong somewhere but as a LAC child, this can be very difficult. LAC children have been through trauma, displacement and in some cases, abuse. Being in a caring, stable, supportive environment is one of the key requirements that prompt all children to achieve. Unfortunately, not every child experiences this support. Their potential is not being realised.
As Ruth Kelly wote in The Guardian nearly five years ago: ‘’Those who have been in care between the ages of 10 and 17 are five times more likely to be convicted of a criminal offence as well as five times more likely to have been excluded from school. Just 6% of young people with experience of the care system will attend university, compared to almost 50% of the general population.’’
How can we change this?
In my opinion, a positive mindset and high levels of self-esteem are imperative for any LAC child to achieve. Many LAC children are embarrassed about their situation however, and don’t like talking about their experiences. So how can we encourage children who have been through trauma and are unwilling to engage?
For LAC children it would be a good idea for them to open up; talking to people relieves negative emotions and lifts a weight off your shoulders. Being around people you feel comfortable with is also important as they can help you deal with any issues or problems; especially if they have gone through the same things as you have.
I think LAC children would benefit from local support groups that they could attend on a monthly basis-these groups would encourage communication and develop healthy relationships with other LAC children. There could be a mentoring system which supports and guides the younger members of the groups; older mentors running self-esteem sessions and growth mindset workshops. LAC groups could also have fun days to encourage engagement as well as help out with career and further education advice.
I for one would be happy to volunteer my time and hopefully, over the next few years, that 6% will become 16% and eventually, 60%!!