Q1) Which care leavers network are you a part of?
I have joined the Youth Ambassador Programme supported by Miracle Foundation India. There are about 12 care leavers who lead the programme.
Q2) When and why did you join the care leavers network?
I joined the Youth Ambassador Programme two years back. It brings together youth who are leaving care institutions. I remember I was about to leave the children’s home and aftercare home, I was anxious and stressed about what would happen next. What will life be like when I move out? I think most children go through similar experiences after moving out of Child Care Institutions (CCIs). I joined the network to be able to support the youth during this phase of their lives. I think I can do it. I have that in me.
Q3) How do you see your role as a member of the care leavers network?
The Youth Ambassador Programme encourages its members to share ideas to support care leavers. We become part of the meetings where we discuss ideas and plans. My vision as a member of the Youth Ambassador Programme is to support care leavers in obtaining documentation. I realised the need for this when I faced challenges getting my birth certificate. Care leavers have limited access to many services due to a lack of proper entitlements and documentation. I want to create support for care leavers for housing, health, education, and career development through donor programmes and by linking them through government schemes. I want to advocate for the rights of children and youth. I plan to start a newsletter where care leavers can voice their issues.
Q4) How has the care leavers network impacted your life?
I wanted to work for care leavers like me but didn’t know how to do it. The group has provided me with the path to achieving my vision. It has also helped me present my views on public forums and improve my confidence. I feel happy and get a sense of satisfaction.
Q5) What is the importance of the care leavers network in the lives of the care leavers?
If the care leavers stay in the network, they can share their problems. Like I made a friend when I participated in a marathon organised by a care leaver network. Now my friend talks to me when he wants to share his happiness, and seek advice for his education, career or everyday problems. I also do so. Care leavers also gain confidence by being part of the group. Many are hesitant and shy when they join, but they open up by the 3rd or 4th session. They get encouragement from each other. Their knowledge about the outside world also increases.
Q6) Do you see any challenges in forming care leavers networks and sustaining them? If yes, what are these?
Many care leavers are not aware of the existing groups or networks. Also, since the existing networks can have a limited number of care leavers, some of those who want to join are unable to do so.
Q7) What are your suggestions for sustaining and strengthening care leavers networks?
In addition to the state and national networks of care leavers, local-level care leaver networks should not have limited members criteria and let the youth join their network. It will act as a platform for them to gain confidence to join the state or national-level networks.
Q8) What do you think is the role of Government and civil society in supporting care leavers networks?
They should create awareness about care leavers groups. They should keep the data of care leavers who can be brought together to form the networks, as youth are not aware of the existing networks and are also hesitant to join them. Government should also take care of the basic needs of the care leavers like housing and health, and support their education, so they can focus on participating in the network activities.
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