As part of our CASCADE Parents group and network we have offered the opportunity for members to contribute to blogs if they would like to. These will be stories, messages, or priorities for research from their perspective. We hope this will be a regular blog feature at CASCADE and another way for us to amplify the voices of those with lived experience of children’s social care.

This isn’t your normal read, but it’s surprising just how many professionals don’t know this book is out there and after the years of work Dr Louise Roberts put into it, I think all professionals working with children and families need to read this book. There are amazing facts and real-life stories and I was lucky enough to help Dr Louise Roberts with this book. But, the big challenge is getting professionals to read it. So, this autumn as the nights get darker, I think it would be good if you could pick it up and read it. 

Photo of the book cover for Louise Roberts' book 'The Children of Looked After Children'
Louise Robert’s Book ‘The Children of Looked After Children’ Available here

As a care leaver I often feel I am under additional scrutiny. The pandemic has been challenging and hard for myself and my family.  

I would like to add here that my children are no longer on the child protection register or have social services or any other services involved. They are at home with me and are coming on fabulously.

I would like to share some examples of this scrutiny and stigma I face to highlight the lived experience for myself and other care experienced parents. 

I make sure that my daughter is dressed for the weather when dropping my son at school. Mums I know will leave the children in their pyjamas and put a coat on the top of them in the pram. I always have my daughters dressed from head to toe, because on that one day I don’t, somebody will see pyjamas and think I am not managing. And in fact, I think I am doing a good job.                    

The pandemic meant there was a lot more support.  Our school was offering hygiene packs, cleaning packets and dry food parcels. This was looked at as a positive and it was a big support, but why then before the pandemic would this kind of support have been looked at as someone struggling? I think the one positive in the pandemic is there was more support and less judgment on people needing help with basic things. 

I don’t drive and as a single mum with no family that meant I was staying up at midnight waiting for the slots on the online shopping to drop, so that we could get the basics in. For example, sometimes I would run out when there were limits on baby wipes. I found this hard trying to do only one shopping trip a month. Does this make me a bad mummy? No, but if I had said I had run out of wipes to anyone before the pandemic I would have faced a negative judgment. Thankfully, I have good neighbours and they were super fabulous.

I was also very thankful to the charity Voices From Care Cymru.  On one occasion I had to go into self-isolation, they were able to get staff to drop off food and essentials to my home. Also, the Salvation Army have been great. 

So again, these situations were solved with support and not judgment. Ultimately, this means my children are still at home happy.

I would like more professionals to read this book and understand the barriers that young mums like myself face. I find it alarming those professionals working in this field always have the same conversations, we need to move forward. I hope that you find it helpful, and I hope that you understand that we are all human.    

Written by: Jen, CASCADE Parents Group