For many of us at IFCO family, ‘tis the season to be jolly. With less than 60 days before the annual family gathering – 2016 International Foster Care Organisation (IFCO) Conference – everyone who has ever been involved in it is getting excited. The conference brings together children and youth from care and those who care for them: foster parents, social workers, child welfare professionals, researchers, policy makers… Over its 35-year-long history, the conferences have become a place for reflection, networking and connection with each other. Most importantly, IFCO Conferences have infused a sense of belonging, sharing and caring – “something I have never felt elsewhere” (Sami, Finland, IFCO 2013 attendee).
“Through my relatively short 24 years of living, I have learned that life is not about fitting in with your surroundings, but rather, finding the surroundings that fit in with you. The IFCO Conference is a great illustration of this.” (Michael, USA, IFCO 2014 attendee)
This year will not be an exception. The upcoming conference “Pathways: A lifelong understanding of education, trauma, intervention and success" will take place on 1-4 September 2016 in Sheffield, UK. With two youth tracks running in parallel to the academic programme, young people with care experience will learn about on self-advocacy and empowerment, how to share their story, connect to others and to continue building on the progress.
“Meeting and getting to know people like me and who know and understand where you are coming from has been an invaluable experience. It's very liberating to tell everyone your story and experiences and be truly honest with people, knowing that they too are in similar situations and are actually interested in hearing your story. Everyone attending the IFCO conferences are there to listen to, learn from and make a difference for young people in care and care leavers." (Davin, Ireland, IFCO 2014 attendee)
With your kind donations towards IFCO Youth Fund, we’ve launched this year’s call for sponsorship for youth in care and care leavers. Five candidates to attend IFCO 2016 have been short listed and results being announced on 14 July. We may not be there with our fundraising goals yet, but we definitely know that we’re closer today than we were yesterday. And knowing that young people with care experience will be “a part of something bigger and something that will change peoples' lives for the better is incredibly empowering.” (Davin, Ireland, IFCO 2014 attendee)
Please spread the word and spread the giving: ask your network, friends and family to support foster youth worldwide too. Together we can witness youth who walk the global walk and talk the global talk, advocating on behalf of their peers at the international level.
With many thanks for your support,