We are care leavers. Care Leaver means a person who was in institutional care or other form of out-of-home care, including foster care, as a child or youth (or both) at some time in their lives. There are approximately 20,000 care leavers in Ireland in 2014.
We want to positively affect other care leavers and to change lives for the better, whether that’s in personal or professional lives. We want people to be free to speak about their background if they wish.
Care Leavers’ Network is a 2015 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Elevator Awardee. The Elevator Programme helps social enterprises to refine ideas and implement the required structures to build a sustainable and scalable organisation.
Chairperson: Wayne Dignam
I am a business consultant and have set up the Care Leavers Network to help other care leavers and those in care. I’m a child of the Irish State, legally the Irish Government was my parent. I grew up in foster care and residential care from the age of three, and was placed in long term foster care when I was eight. I have sat on the Board of the Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA) for two years and played my part in campaigning for children’s rights over many years. My education was critical to my success in business. I’ve a degree in Engineering and Mathematics from Trinity College Dublin, a Masters degree in Engineering from NUI Galway and a Masters degree in Business from DCU. Care leavers can make a difference if we allow our stories to be told and our voices heard. I’m inspired by other care leavers such as Superman, Harry Potter, Batman, Luke Skywalker, Oliver Twist, and other great fictional characters who were fostered, orphaned or adopted.
Communications Manager: Sheila Egan
Having spent time in and out of the care system as a young child, and entering the system full time from the age of 11, I have a deep rooted interest in improving the outcomes of care leavers.Throughout many years, charitable organisations have always been a passion of mine. I have volunteered for many charities including Serve the City-Dublin, Irish Premature Babies and The Laura Lynn Foundation. Having successfully obtained a Diploma in Advertising, Marketing & PR from Dublin Business School, a Degree in Marketing from CIT, I am currently studying a BSc. (Hons) Digital Project and Product Management through the Digital Skills academy in conjunction with DIT. As communications manager for the Care Leavers’ Network, I manage our social media and marketing to grow our network.
Advocacy Manager: Shane Griffin
I am a Social Studies Graduate, who has spent time working in mainstream residential care since completing my studies. Before returning to education in September 2011, I mainly worked in retail while caring for a family member. I was in the state care for over eight years, spending time with many foster families and also in residential care homes. Although this journey has been quite a personal struggle and challenge, I look to the future. I have spent time working with various marginalised and disadvantaged groups through various student placements, including working alongside Garda Diversion Projects, Youth Training and Development Programmes and with an a Adult Homeless Service. I have also worked as a Home Care Assistant and in Residential Care during my studies. My commitment to obtain a third level qualification has been of immense benefit to me and has offered me several opportunities. My involvement in the Care Leavers’ Network is from my personal and professional passion to advocate for those who are and have been in the Irish care system.