Insight: Strengthening Networks of People with Lived Experience of Care

Changing the Way We Care

Care leavers, young people who are or have left a formal care placement, are one of the most important stakeholder groups in a care reform process; a group whose experience, expertise and insights should be at the center of shaping the reform and advocacy agenda nationally, regionally and globally. Whilst the importance of engaging care leavers and ensuring meaningful participation is recognized within the sector, in practice, methods of engagement vary.

Efforts can fail to legitimately empower and enable meaningful participation or limit to inviting care leavers to illuminate existing agendas through the sharing of personal experiences. In situations where care leavers are excluded from the places where the agenda setting takes place or where power for change exists, participation risks being tokenistic or, in the worst cases, exploitative. Engaging people with lived experience, including care leavers, by facilitating development of and strengthening networks is an important part of care reform. Sustainability of care leaver involvement throughout the care reform process, beginning to end, can be facilitated through these key structures that lead to sustained participation.

This learning document shares findings from care leaver-led research into the formation of care leaver networks.