Changing the Way We Care is a global initiative led by Catholic Relief Services, Maestral International and the Lumos Foundation, that promotes the expansion of safe and stable family-based care while decreasing reliance on residential care facilities. The shift away from residential care facilities as the primary response for vulnerable children in crisis will require the involvement of many stakeholders. Care leavers i.e., young adults who have spent some or all of their childhood in residential care provide a particularly unique and important voice.
While care leavers are young adults–and no longer protected by the ethical guidelines related to working with children–care leavers have suffered personal trauma in their past and may not have an existing safety net to protect them. This guidance was produced with the Kenya Society of Care Leavers to address these questions of how to best engage people with this important voice in care reform.
The guidance is divided into sections, each targeting a particular aspect of care reform that relates to the experiences of care leavers. Sections include: understanding residential care facilities and the children living within them; supporting children and youth prior to exiting residential care; supporting children after exiting care; how to speak about or use the stories of care leavers; information for faith-based organizations and volunteers; and engaging care leavers in program design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.