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Before Care

Early experiences

Of those who gave testimony, nine people either did not talk about or did not know the reason for being taken into care. A further eight described boarding school or hostel accommodation for schooling at a distance as a decision made within a loving family context.

The first thing I remember about care was fear.

For most, however, common causes for being removed from the family home became clear. We heard about physical and sexual abuse within the family from half the people who have spoken to us, often accompanied by parental alcoholism, parental rejection, or neglect. Parental mental illness was described in several testimonies. Fathers being sent to prison, divorce and maternal death were other reasons given for being taken into care.

Mother did not have a loving bone in her body.

In several cases, we heard of children bouncing between parents, foster and residential care placements. About a third of the people who spoke to us did not know how long they would be staying in an institution, why they were there, or whether or not parents wanted to maintain contact. This confusion continued into the care experience. Those who experienced multiple care settings often described short placements suddenly terminated and with little or no involvement in the decision-making. However, one individual described being asked about his preference for a full-time residential setting, reporting this as a positive experience that helped him not to rebel.

I was taken away too quickly...Mum and Dad did not take drugs, it was a stable family...they took away the only thing that mattered.

What has been impressed upon the Forum members is the distress, fear and confusion that children and young people coming into care frequently experienced.

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