“I grew up in a loving, stable foster home but I always had questions my foster parents could not answer. Those questions that only my birth mother would know the answers to. Simple things like what weight I was when I was born, or when I took my first steps. Unfortunately, my birth mother passed away when I was 14, so I had nobody left to answer them. The passing of my mother made me realise how much information I didn’t know about my own life and this motivated me to want to find out more. For every child in the care system, there is a huge file that contains information about his or her life regularly updated by the social workers. Everything from school grades, how much and what they ate, to how many times they showered a week and if they got injured, even if it was just a paper cut, it was recorded in those files. However, accessing those files was always a struggle as the social workers didn’t have a rulebook about when and how we can access the files. When I began my work with EPIC and met other young people from the care system I realised that I wasn’t alone with my questions. With the support of EPIC and Tusla our group developed a leaflet about the rights of children in accessing their data. It also gave instructions to social workers about how they are supposed to release the information and what is the right age when children are allowed to access them. We wouldn’t have been able to make such a significant change without the help of organisations like EPIC…I haven’t gotten to see mine yet, but I will be applying for them soon. I hope that when I do, it will answer some of the questions I always wanted to know.”
This post was highlighted by EPIC – Empowering Young People in Care.