This chapter considers early parenthood for young people in and leaving state care in Wales. Drawing on data from a five-year pan-Wales study, funded by Health and Care Research Wales, the chapter presents interview data from care-experienced parents and leaving care professionals.
Over the course of the research, a wish to be ‘good’ parents and build close relationships with children was repeatedly highlighted. Despite this, outcomes and trajectories for families varied; while some thrived in their parenting role, others experienced compulsory Children’s Services intervention and separation. Yet within these wide ranging experiences, recurrent themes emerged in respect of the barriers faced by young people in and leaving care as parents. These included the potential for them to experience stigma and discrimination, with assumptions that parenting ability is inhibited or damaged by previous experiences. As a ‘known name’ within the Local Authority, care-experienced parents were also seen as more likely to be subject to Children’s Services referral and assessment. Likewise, while a variety of initiatives were discussed over the course of the research, the availability of support was recognised as inconsistent, unstable and not necessarily helpful for parents.
The findings of the research suggest that further policy and practice development is required. This includes local and national policies which make explicit a commitment to supporting care-experienced parents with their children in order that they are provided with the best chance of preventing cycles of intergenerational care experience and ‘having a family of their own’.
Children and Young People ‘Looked After’? Education, Intervention and the Everyday Culture of Care in Wales
This is the latest blog in a series relating to the recently released book “Children and Young People ‘Looked After’? Education, Intervention and the Everyday Culture of Care in Wales”. Over the next few weeks we will be uploading blog posts from chapter authors.