It’s our 20th Anniversary and we are celebrating 20 years of being EPIC by posting articles every month about EPIC. This month is an article written by Care Leaver Katelyn Kelly.

Care experience over all:

I had a good experience overall during my time in care. I had only one placement during my time in care. I don’t think if I was not in care that I’d be the same as I am today for many reasons. Being in care has truly changed me as a human being. If I wasn’t in care, I don’t think I would have finished school or even went on to college. Being in care made me go and achieve a goal I would have never thought I would have. Being in care made me a strong independent woman I never knew I could be. I had a very supportive upbringing with my foster parents always being there to cheer me on with achieving things such as completing the leaving certificate, something I never could see happening if I was still in my birth home.

How I came into Care:

I came into care when I was 7 years old along with few of my siblings. I was put into care because my parents had issues of their own and couldn’t mind me or my other siblings. My Dad had Asperger’s and my Mum had autism. Most of their children had one of these conditions and they couldn’t mind us because they had children who had needs while trying to deal with their own needs was a struggle and a difficulty for them. They did their best to keep us. My Aunt tried to get them help by getting a Social Worker involved for foster care for us. They were against it at first but then knew it be the best option for us.

Positive experience from care and aftercare:

My foster parents were so good to me during my time in care. I was in only one foster care placement until the age of 18 which I am very thankful for as these foster carers helped me become the young woman that I am today. I believe that I wouldn’t be the person that I am without them. They were the best foster carers and never treated my sister or myself any different from their own daughters. Looking back on my time in care, I can remember all the positive memories that I will always cherish. I remember the times of special occasions such as communions where my foster parents made sure that my birth parents were included which was important to me as it made the day better with them there but also it was important as they got to cherish an important day in their child’s life. I remember my first time on a plane to America in 2006 with my foster family. My first Christmas in my foster care home is one that will always be in my mind. This Christmas meant the most to me because I was given loads of presents and had a Christmas dinner. Previous Christmases to this were where I was only given one present but no big Christmas dinner. My foster parents always were there when I needed them most especially when I was struggling with my mental health or when I was going through break ups. I even remember them being there for me when access with my birth parents were stopped for four years when I was 14. They always had my back and I could always count on them. I stay in regular contact with my foster family since being out of care and attend many family occasions with them because I had a positive care experience with them. I still regard them as my family even though I am not in care anymore. I can always ring them up if I need something etc. They were there for me when my birth Mother died. They will be there for me when I receive my degree in childcare. They will be there for my wedding and my foster Dad will be walking me up the aisle. They will be there when I have children of my own. They will be there for the rest of my life.

Katelyn Kelly

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