My experience in care as a foster child and my journey to university

My name is Katie and l am a care leaver! Since the age of four, I am fortunate to have been placed, and remain, with only one long-term Foster Carer. However, when I explain this to people, many assume it’s been an easy journey. It’s certainly not been easy, nor has it been perfect. But living with any family isn’t perfect, and that’s what family life is all about! It’s important to have people there to support you, to inspire you, but furthermore to discipline you, and tell you right from wrong! I want to start by telling you a story that will forever be imbedded in both my Foster Carer’s heart, and in my own.

Years ago, when I was very young, I attended a Foster Carers Christmas event organised by The Fostering team at Brighton and Hove City Council with my short-term Foster Carer at the time, when all of sudden I just stood up and started walking my first few steps for the first time ever! However little did we know, Sonia, the Foster Carer that I have now lived with for the past seventeen years, was in that very room, at that very time, and witnessed me walking my first few steps; alongside many other Foster Carers. When my Foster Carer tells that story, I can just see the pure warmth that her heart feels! We believe that story is just a true example of how faith really can exist in life. Because after one short-term placement, and two-failed adoption placements before the age of three, some could say that Social Services have been in my life since I was born. My Foster Carer has always said that nobody has the name title ‘Mum’ just because they have given birth too you; that’s just the power they feel over you. But for me, my Foster Carer will always be my Mum because of her unknown presence at that mince pie morning, and then for the past seventeen years that she has committed herself to me, and my older brother as a parent. I will never be able to repay that commitment, but I now live everyday to make her one proud parent.   

I matured like any normal child in school, however school is never easy for children in care. Of course there were difficulties for me at school, and there were many bullies, and then there were my GCSE exams! But I didn’t realise how important my education was to me until I left school with average GCSE results and started a three-year journey at college. Whilst at school I always exceeded in creative art subjects like Dance and Music, but deeply struggled with Maths and Science. Once I left school, I was really unsure about what I wanted to study. But from participating in the Rhythmix Music group each week at school, I realised that I wanted to study A-Level Music, because that was always what made me happy! I auditioned and got accepted into Brighton’s Private Modern Music Institute. I then finished my one-year course at BIMM, and started two-years at Worthing College. I studied A-Level Business and Photography, and additionally had to retake my GCSE Maths. I retook GCSE Maths three times and even with the incredible support from a private tutor I still failed each time. I left college with AAB in my A-levels results but didn’t get accepted into Sussex University to study Business, because I didn’t have a C in GCSE Maths. I am now studying GCSE Maths part-time at Brighton City College, now my fourth attempt.

After not getting accepted into University last year, I had to reconsider what I wanted to study and what I wanted to do once I graduated. I believe it’s more important to be happy everyday in employment, rather than chase fortune. If I hadn’t attended the Rhythmix Music group and the Council's Virtual School Dance group, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for performing arts in school, and then college! I discovered Falmouth University in Cornwall, and attended an open day late last year, and I was very impressed! I then reapplied for UCAS and got offered an audition and interview at Falmouth University, which I was incredibly nervous about! In March this year I opened an email from the University saying that I’d been accepted with an unconditional offer to study a Music, Dance, Theatre and Entertainment Management Degree! Falmouth is the UK’s number one Creative Art’s University!

I believed that just because I didn’t achieve remarkable GCSE results; that shouldn’t have stopped me from getting into college and studying my A-Levels. Just because I still haven’t passed GCSE Maths after many failed attempts, I have not let that stop me from going to University! I believe it’s all because of the incredible support and wisdom I’ve had from Social Services and The Fostering Team as well as my family. I will not let negative experiences from my childhood stop me from achieving excellent accomplishments in my adulthood. I believe that every child in care with a supportive Foster Carer, and dependable Social Worker should be able to achieve nothing less than pure excellence and fortune within their education and future employment.

Outside of my educational journey at school and college I have always attended the half term and summer activities ran by the council Fostering Support team. These different activities have really encouraged me from a young age to try new creative arts and sporting activities. Whilst growing up I even learnt how to swim confidently and ride a bike securely on these activity days. I got to meet and socialise with other young children and adults who have grown up in the care system; and who are still growing today; and it’s such an incredible experience! These activities have helped me, and other young children within the care system feel a sense of belonging and worth. These creative arts and sporting activities can help young children build relationships with other young children and adults within the care system. I have made some lifetime long friendships with other young adults who have grown up on these activity days with me! I am now proud to be invited back to attend, and help out on these activities as a volunteer; therefore I still get to meet more talented young children and adults who are in care! I feel completely inspired every time I attend an activity ran by the Fostering Team, that late last year I started my online application for Camp America! Once I had sent my application, I had to provide three reference details and two came from Social Services. I have had to have various police checks done. Once these were cleared, I got an interview with an ambassador from Camp America, who reviewed my application and sent it off to head office in America, where thousands of different camps can read and select my application. Three months later a special needs children camp in New Jersey emailed me about a placement. I had an international interview with the camp director and shortly after got offered a placement as a camp counselor, which I happily accepted! I will teach and support various different creative and performing arts and sporting activities! I have now received my visa and medical insurance, and am in contact with others who have been placed at the same camp. It’s a very exciting opportunity, and I can’t wait to meet the children!

I would just like to say thank you to the individuals who have watched and supported me growing up, and who have helped me to achieve in my adulthood. My complete appreciation to the Rhythmix Music group, the Virtual School Dance group, and the Fostering Support team! Because if these activities weren’t available to me whilst I was growing up in the care system, then I wouldn’t have made some lifetime long friendships with other young children and adults who are in the care system. If I hadn't had such excellent educational support from Social Services whilst at school and college, then I wouldn’t have been accepted into University or Camp America; and I wouldn’t have the confidence to share my story and hopefully inspire other young people growing up in care. My experience has taught me never to let the past define my future, anything is possible.

If you would like to find out more about fostering – contact Brighton and Hove City Council:

www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/fostering

01273 295444

 

Our next fostering information sessions are on the dates below:

Wed 17th May – 6.30pm

Hove County Cricket Club – Free parking in the ground

 

Thursday 15th June – 6.30pm

Hove County Cricket Club – Free parking in the ground

 

Wed 19th July – 6.30pm

Hove County Cricket Club – Free parking in the ground