"To this day I don't feel I belong, to anything."

So began Michael King's compelling story about his experience of out of home care.

 

 

You could hear a pin drop on the carpet in the UWA Club's banquet hall as he talked.

The occasion was the Alliance for Children at Risk's breakfast forum on person centred care and individual funding, held on 26 November 2014.

Michael King, Manager of Centacare's Kimberley operation, was the first speaker of a panel of three. He offered insight into the conditions that he said "led to a battle for control." Michael's journey through the out-of-home care system began when he was taken into care at 15 months of age and continued until he fled interstate at age 16.

“Over this journey through the care system, there were a number of transformative moments that, if the system had stopped long enough and really listened to what I and other people were trying to say, things may have been very different,” he told the breakfast forum.

“The problem was that I was part of a care system focused on having total control over the lives of children in care. That control meant that what they thought was best for me was going to happen.  This led to a battle for control that I now feel that both the Department [for Child Protection] and I lost.

“I have seen this form of life control embodied in the actions of children in care today. I see this as children taking control of their own failure. As my experience can show, it did not matter what happened to me, because at least it was happening because of me. So we do need to develop a system that can balance out or negate the impact of these negative life choices, which can arise when a young person starts to believe they are losing control or starting to have destabilising personal experiences.”

Michael said, “person centred and individualised funded care models do have a capacity to offer a level of stability or continuity that can go across placement types or locations. Both of these care models can support young people to direct their energy towards the achievement of excellence in an unlimited field of discovery. It can help to establish the familiar in an environment that can be dominated by constant change.”

You can read Michael’s full speech.

Julie Waylen, State Manager NDS WA, detailed the person centred and individual funding models in the disability sector. You can read her presentation.

Professor David Gilchrist, Director of Curtin University’s Not-for-profit Initiative, reflected on structural, risk, funding and governance issues that organisations in the out of home care sector should attend to in preparing for person centred and individual funding care models. View his presentation.