Pretty much every single statistic you read about Looked after Children is miserable and depressing.
According to Google there are 107,163 Looked after Children in the UK.
That’s a few thousand more than last year.
They’d fill every seat at Wembley and still thousands would be left standing outside.
These kids are more likely to be boys than girls, more likely to be teenagers than little, and disproportionately more likely to be black than white. More importantly none of them have chosen to be in care and I have never met any who wanted to be in care.
The kids don’t go into care, they are sent.
Statistically, a Looked after Child is much more likely to have a Special Educational Need than the rest of us.
A Looked after Child is more likely to be excluded from school, either temporarily or permanently, than the rest of us.
Looked after Children are less likely to pass Maths and English GCSE than the rest of us. I don’t know about Latin. I couldn’t find any statistics but I’m guessing the number is low.
Looked after Children are less likely to do A-Levels, less likely to get good grades, but more likely to complete a prison sentence than graduate with a degree.
Looked after Children invariably leave care at a much younger age than the rest of us leave our family home.
It’s not that they actually choose to leave care, more that ‘Care’ leaves them.
Looked after Children grow up to become something called ‘Care Experienced Adults’.
A disproportionate number of our prison population are Care Experienced.
The people you see sleeping in the street, in doorways and on benches, are more likely to have been in care than not.
Physical health, mental health and life expectancy statistics are all equally grim.
If this all seems a bit anecdotal and emotive for you, please feel free to google some statistics.
If you get confused over Causation and Correlation, have a little think about why the data outcomes are so poor. If you think I’m ‘stigmatising’, have a word with http://www.gov.uk.
Here’s the Good News.
Although I have a very creditable grade in Maths O’Level, I’ve always preferred an anecdote to a statistic.
My personal story beats your theory, your thesis and your theology.
So what about our boy?
We can’t pretend that statistics aren’t real, but we can be the exception.
He’s ‘care experienced’.
He’s lived in several homes.
If he were to play ‘ACEs’ bingo, he’d beat me and I’m pretty sure he’d beat you. He’s a World Champion in sh*t starts at life.
But for the last 8 years, he’s only lived with us.
He calls our house his home, and he calls our family his family.
He knows he’ll be living with us for as long as he wants. It may well be that he’ll choose our Care Home. Now wouldn’t that be an irony.
We don’t think he will go to University but we are putting ideas for careers into his brain. Something to do with phones, or nails, or cooking or childcare are all in the mix.
We are saving money to one day help him get a place of his own.
We’ve planted trees and plants and explained that when he’s older they’ll be bigger than him. We talk very casually and very normally about a future that includes him.
We’ve discussed what his kids, should he have any, will call me. Will I be their Granddad or will they call me ‘Phil’ like he does? Who knows and who cares, but these chats tell us that he knows his future is as secure as anyone else’s.
Our boy will be ok.
Whilst there’s breath in our bodies, our boy will be ok.
That leaves 107,162 others.
What are you going to do about them?