Bright Spots: Challenging Stigma in the Care System

Our Insight paper: ‘Challenging Stigma in the care system’, shares what children and young people have told us about stigma, what they want to see from services and gives examples of how local authorities have worked with children in care and care leavers to challenge stigma.

What is stigma and how does it affect children in care and care leavers? When you are stigmatised people make negative assumptions about you based on a specific characteristic – e.g. how you look or the group you belong to. Goffman (1963) defined stigma as an “attribute that is deeply discrediting”. Children in care and care leavers report experiencing stigma and worrying about being labelled or judged if their care background is known (Selwyn et al, 2015; Baker, 2017).

Key Findings from Bright Spots

Our latest reports on children in care and care leavers (2018; 2019) found that:

  • About 1 in 8 young people in care (12%) aged 11-18yrs felt adults did things which made them ‘feel embarrassed about being in care’. Although most young people did not report being made to feel embarrassed, the rates who did varied from 6% to 25% in local authorities.
  • 1 in 10 care leavers felt that, as a care leaver, they have been treated worse than other young people.