THE NEXT #CARECONVOS WILL BE THIS MONDAY 2nd dec 2019, 8PM AND THE TOPIC IS… *SUPPORT DURING TRANSITIONS* i.e. primary to secondary school / out of care / post 25.
Some interesting reflections on transitions:
Wayne Belasis – Mini mackem mad man biffa!
Transition from care to independence was a big thing for me. Hands up, I massively underestimated how hard it was gonna be. Honestly I thought it was gonna be class, all the freedom, no rules, party at mine every night woop woop !! I think the staff at my last placement did try a bit to learn me things I needed but I wasn’t really having it, just like ‘I’ll be fine man’. I didn’t really have a clue. I suppose its an example of a transition that didn’t go well and I try to think about what went wrong, what I could of done different and what other people could of done different.
Within a short time I’d got in a right mess basically. Not managing money, getting in bother off the housing people for not being a good tenent. Neglecting myself a lot so I ended up affecting my health cos I was just being unhealthy and that, bad diet, bad habits, that sort of thing. Worst bit of all though was how alone I felt I honestly just felt abandonded by everyone. Yes I had personal advisor and the housing officer but that doesn’t help when you just need company or to talk or whatever. So I ended up knocking about with some people who I probablys should of kept away from just so I had people there. They werent even real friends, I knew it, but at least it was someone. In the end I had a break down cos of the whole thing. Don’t wanna finish on a bad note like I did pick myself up a bit again and now I’m coming to the transition of turning 25 (which I class as a kind of milestone) things are more settled.
But what might of stopped it coming to that point. I think it would of helped me to know what to expect so I got a realistic idea. Having people to talk through any worries. I reckon looking over the whole thing and planning better would of helped. Like if I had chance to think about what things I wanted to be different. I suppose transitions can be a good chance of a fresh start. But also to think about what things I wanted to stay the same including ideally what people will stick with me. That’s just some ideas I came up with trying to think back. Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way. That’s why I think it’s good having things like care convos so everyone can learn from that hard won knowledge that all different people got on their different ways. Maybes people will agree with my opinions maybes they wont. Either way looking forward to seeing what comes up in the chat.
You can find Wayne on Twitter: @wayne24536203
SENIOR LECTURER, DR DEE MICHELL, FROM UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE
When I think about transitions, I remember grief, and feeling stupid.
Feeling stupid: Back in the day when I moved from primary school to high school, we were still ‘streaming’ classes from the smartest students to the ‘dumbest’. I was plumb smack in the middle, in C = average. Until that moment I’d seen myself as pretty smart. I was usually top of my class, I’d been reading since forever, and I was confident in speaking up. Being streamed into the average class knocked my confidence and I think now it influenced me to take up the (girls only) ‘commercial stream’ – a 3 year prep for secretarial work – the following year, for students not planning to Matriculate or prepare for university.
Thank goodness streaming is gone, although we still kind of do that in regard to private/public schools and top ranking universities.
When I started working for IBM in my 20s, I still remember the first day of not understanding what new co-workers were talking about because they spoke IBM-jargon. Jargon is well known for creating insiders and outsiders, and I was inside but still an outsider.
Recently a new colleague said he wasn’t going to talk in meetings because he didn’t understand what we were talking about – Uni of Adelaide-jargon! Now I do it!
In terms of support, my experience tells me we need caring insiders who can help make sense of the new environment for CEP children and young people, to introduce them to the new lingo and help them find their way around. My kids had ‘buddies’ when they went to high school, so something like a buddy system. At work now we have ‘peer mentors’, students who are further ahead who help support incoming students, show them around, help them out. Particularly important for First in Family students as parents prob won’t know what they need to know.
Grief: Transitions for me are always a time of grief, and that always catches me totally unprepared. The first significant time was when I first left home. I’d been in the one foster care home for 15 years, so it was home. Leaving was my decision but it was also a wrench as suddenly I felt without family. I began searching for birth family in earnest then (earlier I’d had some thoughts about it but not acted). I located some extended family.
The second time was after I left a long term relationship, 14 years later. I struggled for a year, not understanding why I felt so bad when leaving the relationship I knew to be a good decision. This time I went to counselling for a bit, did some writing, and connected with brothers and a sister I’d not seen since I was 3.
I don’t know how much literature there is around CEP and grief, but Rosemary Wanganeen, a member of the Stolen Generations in Adelaide, is onto something I think with her Australian Institute for Loss & Grief, https://www.lossandgrief.com.au/
If grief was triggered for me and Rosemary, and processing grief was helpful for us, it might be that other CEP need awareness and support around grief too.
You can find Dee on Twitter: @DrDeeMichell
IAN DICKSON, RETIRED SOCIAL WORKER/OFSTED INSPECTOR
First of all – Let’s listen to the care experienced community. They – and only they – are the experts about the care experience. Each care experience is unique. There is no central truth. None of us, however articulate or experienced we may be, have a mandate or the vision to speak for the entire care community. We need to reach out and speak with as many care experienced people as we can, of all ages, in all settings, in all our glorious diversity. This process would need to be repeated regularly. That way lies knowledge and insight.
Secondly, let’s treat care for what it is – a continuous flowing process that starts on the day of admission to care and can last for many years into adulthood. “Care” isn’t defined by age or stage. The preparation for interdependence (which is what “independence” really is) must start on the first day in care. Children should be supported emotionally, practically, educationally and socially to be confident adults by their corporate parents. Those parents are a partnership between natural family where appropriate and every branch of local and national government and Society that will have an impact on the young person’s life.
The care leaving age should be at least 21. However, this cannot be simply more of the same care. Let’s build in real preparation for life whilst in care that engages the community. Let’s build in bespoke support for each young person that goes with them when they eventually choose to go into the community and may involve practical and financial support for further or higher education when the young person feels ready, and access to peer and professional support into adulthood as and when necessary.
The detail could be worked out by people much cleverer than me, but the underlying principle would be that the transition is an individual and elastic phenomenon based on individual need not an age or stage set by statute or convention. If we can achieve that, we have the roots of progress.
Let’s talk about transition by all means – but let’s be clear what we mean when we do.
You can find Ian on Twitter: @IDickson258
JOIN US FOR #CARECONVOS TO TALK ABOUT *SUPPORT DURING TRANSITIONS* THIS MONDAY 2nd dec 8PM!
#CARE EXPERIENCED #FOSTER & #KINSHIP CARERS, #RESIDENTIAL CARE WORKERS, #EDUCATORS, #ADOPTOPTERS #ADOPTED #SOCIALWORKERS AND ALL PROFESSIONALS WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE OR IN THE SYSTEM.
ALL WELCOME! WE’RE INTERESTED IN EVERYONE’S PERSPECTIVES.
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*Painting from an original by James Coates