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01-10-2018, 12:34   #1
Boards.ie: Niamh
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Now ye're talking - to someone who's lived in a state care home

Our guest this week spent several years living in state care homes as a child as his family had rejected him (in his words).

He also lived on the streets at the age of 13 while the local health board tried to find a suitable place for him to live. He was expelled from school at around that time, also aged 13.

He is now an adult with a partner and children of his own.
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01-10-2018, 15:54   #2
miamee
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Hi op, thanks for doing this AMA. How was it that the local health boards allowed you to be homeless as a child? Could they not find a foster family or was there some other issue? How were you able to survive at that age, how did you get fed, etc.?
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01-10-2018, 16:02   #3
I've lived in state care homes, AMA
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Hi op, thanks for doing this AMA. How was it that the local health boards allowed you to be homeless as a child? Could they not find a foster family or was there some other issue? How were you able to survive at that age, how did you get fed, etc.?
Hi there.No problem at all. I'm glad to be here

The local health boards were restricted in finding suitable places for me to stay, in actual fact I was placed with 2 foster families and while I ran away from the first one I was removed by gardai from the second due to my behaviour. Social workers were to my understanding obliged to inform any potential foster family of my past from a bad behaviour/criminal perspective in advance of any agreement being put in place. naturally this led to multiple rejections.

I was able to survive on daily food vouchers given to me by a social worker which I was able to exchange in a health board nominated restaurant.
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01-10-2018, 16:08   #4
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What is the difference between a state care home and a foster family or is that the same thing? Sorry, I don't know much about it at all. Did you ever go back to living with family at a later age?
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01-10-2018, 16:20   #5
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What is the difference between a state care home and a foster family or is that the same thing? Sorry, I don't know much about it at all. Did you ever go back to living with family at a later age?
A state care home is run by the state, it is along the lines of a foster family only that you would see some people from 9-5 Monday to Friday, others for 24 hour periods and you live with other boys, in my case, who would have care requirements that cannot be met by a foster family. The staff in these homes are fully trained professionals to deal with a manner of situations such as hostility to depression and similar situations. They have all studied psychology as part of their qualifications and work in groups of 2/3/4 sometimes more per shift depending on how many young people are in the home.

A foster family for all intents and purposes is just like an ordinary family living on the same street as you but take in young people who are in a crisis, their home setting is no longer suitable or to put it mildly their family have just given them up., effectively abdicating their parental obligations and handing them to the foster family via the state (social work department).

No sadly I never returned home. but in hindsight it was for the best that I didn't. I was literally the child that no one wanted where my family was concerned as was passed from pillar to post as long as I wasn't their problem.

Social workers and care workers intervened on many an occasion to explore potential respite care but this was rejected by each of them despite taking on my other cousins for overnights/weekends/holidays etc. you could say I was literally the black sheep.

Things with my family reached a boiling point that the local health board had to go to court to get a care order in place as I required medical treatment that my family refused to sign for and the excuse was he's your problem not ours so sort it yourselves.
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01-10-2018, 16:20   #6
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Hi Op - Fair play for doing this AMA; particularly at this time when homelessness and family are are in the news so much.

A few questions: I'm not sure how long ago you were state care but do you think the situation has improved (or gotten worse) now? Do you think someone in a similar position to yours would be treated any differently now?

Looking back now do you think people or the state could or should have done anything different to deal with your situation?

How do you look back on that time now - with anger / sadness / frustration - all of the above and more??
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01-10-2018, 16:35   #7
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Hi Op - Fair play for doing this AMA; particularly at this time when homelessness and family are are in the news so much.

A few questions: I'm not sure how long ago you were state care but do you think the situation has improved (or gotten worse) now? Do you think someone in a similar position to yours would be treated any differently now?

Looking back now do you think people or the state could or should have done anything different to deal with your situation?

How do you look back on that time now - with anger / sadness / frustration - all of the above and more??
Hi Setanta1000 and thank you

I was in state care in the 1990s into the 2000s. When I look at one of the care unit's I was in today and compare it to my time it is very very different, children now have more of a voice than they ever did which is a good thing, while my own case was in the last 20 years and less it has definitely evolved.


What the state did was either rightly or wrongly, they kept pushing for me to be reintegrated into the family unit and saw very quickly that it wasn't working for a variety of reasons but ploughed on with it never the less despite my own opposition to it, the reason I wasn't listened to is because I was told, oh you're a minor and have no say over what happens, we as adults have that responsibility, it doesn't happen anymore thankfully as the feedback I get from residents in care now is the care is second to none bar not being allowed to have tv's in their bedrooms, which we were allowed but under very strict conditions, this was all before smart tv's etc and even mobile phones were in their infancy in the country.

The number 1 thing the state should have done I might add was put more effort into securing a roof over my head quicker than they did, if the same scenario occurred today it would not be allowed to happen, the reason I say this is I have met children who have come from similar backgrounds to my own with similar stories but they were placed in some form of care within hours either by the gardai or a social worker themselves. The critical part of it all is there was no out of hours social worker then and 20 years later it hasn't changed, these were some of the cracks I fell through at that time.

I look back on my time in care with happiness honestly and became very emotional when I had to eventually leave as the relationships I had built with many of the staff was so close that they felt like family to me, even today I maintain semi regular contact with them, they openly share their phone numbers with me, places of abode and even take time out of their personal lives to meet with me and my children .


The sadness and frustration come together to describe how my family treated the entire situation, while they did engage to an extent, it was on their terms or not at all, the care workers reluctantly agreed to this until one of them got in the middle of a dispute between myself and a family member one night that ended his career as a care worker due to a spinal injury received,then they pulled the plug altogether for safety reasons, thankfully it wasn't so severe that he could never work again, but just not in a high setting that is high tempered and volatile on a daily basis.
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01-10-2018, 17:19   #8
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Thanks for doing this. I work with young people in care so it is really interesting having a now adult perspective on what it might be like for the kids I work with, albeit at a different time. You are really articulate, did you return to education?
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01-10-2018, 17:23   #9
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Hi - your posts are beautifully written.

I just hope you are happy now and in a very good place.
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01-10-2018, 17:29   #10
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Thanks for doing this. I work with young people in care so it is really interesting having a now adult perspective on what it might be like for the kids I work with, albeit at a different time. You are really articulate, did you return to education?
Hi Loveinapril, i'm very happy to be doing this. I have engaged with kids in one of the homes I was in and regularly interact with them. The most positive aspect from a child care worker's point of view is that I continue to call in, even with my children on the odd occasion and this is all witnessed by them (care workers). Naturally you get the odd question as to why I would ever want to go back and visit etc but that is all to be expected. Yes I did indeed, I have studied in various area's but must admit my biggest regret is not studying social care as I was too busy living my life once I entered independent living. While it is still something I have a strong desire for today, I am unsure if I could 100% commit when it comes to finances, my partner works, I work myself and we have children, so to try and fit a 3 year full time course in on top of that would be difficult, however I am exploring other possibilities such as night courses etc to help facilitate this. The residential care setting would definitely be something I would endeavour to do inside the next 5 years.
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01-10-2018, 17:31   #11
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Hi - your posts are beautifully written.

I just hope you are happy now and in a very good place.
Thank you angeleyes
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01-10-2018, 20:31   #12
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OP
Despite your somewhat unfortunate start in life it would seem that things have worked out fairly well for you, employed,in a stable relationship, a parent and you seem to be an intelligent articulate person.
Would you consider that to be typical outcome for someone who has been through what you experienced.
The impression I have ( and it may be wildly inaccurate) is that many who come through the care system are "dumped " by the state at 18 and left to fend for themselves with little support.
Anyhow, best of luck to you for scucceding against the odds to get to where you are now.
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01-10-2018, 20:45   #13
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Do you have other siblings? If so did your parents reflect them too?
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01-10-2018, 20:51   #14
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OP
Despite your somewhat unfortunate start in life it would seem that things have worked out fairly well for you, employed,in a stable relationship, a parent and you seem to be an intelligent articulate person.
Would you consider that to be typical outcome for someone who has been through what you experienced.
The impression I have ( and it may be wildly inaccurate) is that many who come through the care system are "dumped " by the state at 18 and left to fend for themselves with little support.
Anyhow, best of luck to you for scucceding against the odds to get to where you are now.
Hi Mick,

Thank you for your post

Yes the first 13 years of my life were nothing short of a disaster.

Absolutely, I am in a stable relationship, stable job, my children have stability in their lives having both parents there at all times, something which I never had, I grew up without both of my parents.

The outcome I have experienced while not uncommon, was not something you would hear of very often.

In relation to being "dumped" by the care system, that did happen, but not any longer in the vast majority of cases, there is an active care plan put in place prior to a young person being discharged from residential care, this involves an after care worker being assigned to the YP (Young person) and while supports are very frequent to begin with they are gradually reduced at a pace the YP can cope with, for some it is a matter of weeks, for others a matter of months, in my own case I was discharged aged 18 and returned for semi regular overnights for 2 years afterwards such was my close bond with the unit, the contact has remained to this very day.

Thank you for your well wishes and indeed it has been a tough road to get where I now am unlike many of my contemporaries in that particular unit who have sadly since passed away.
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01-10-2018, 20:54   #15
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Do you have other siblings? If so did your parents reflect them too?
Yes I have other siblings, 1 full sibling and unknown amount of half siblings. My parents never married to each other, my father was married to another woman while having an extra marital affair with my mother. My mother had 3 children and retained the youngest for 6 years while myself and another sibling were not retained at all.
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