The “LeaveCare-Livelife” project has brought 40 young care leavers together in Zagreb to work for five days to create recommendations for better care services. The Care Leavers are representing Croatia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. Their work is sharing mutual knowledge and the recommendations created will be addressed to decision makers at European level, in preparation for the final conference to be held at the premises of the EU institutions in Brussels in the early months of 2020.

The joint training experience is the third main step of “LeaveCare-LiveLife: Building the European Care Leavers Network for youngsters leaving foster and residential care and actively living and participating in life“, the European project funded in the frame of the Erasmus Plus Programme. Launched in December 2017, the project lasts 28 months. It is aimed at giving young care leavers (leaving the community, foster care, a family home) the tools to be better prepared for their future independent lives. The project partners – Associazione Agevolando from Italy as project leader, FICE Croatia, Care Leavers Association from United Kingdom, Care Leavers Network Ireland and TIBERIUS Association from Romania – already agreed and tested with more than 150 youngsters a methodology of group participation. The Care Leavers Participation Groups, CLPGs –bring to the creation of Recommendations to the decision makers, professionals, journalists for improving the care leavers’ situation. We have held training for the associations’ staff in Maynooth, Ireland and a further training conference for 30 professionals – educators, social workers, psychologists from the partners’ countries in Bucharest, Romania. The two relevant outputs were aimed at increasing the awareness about the issue of youth participation in leaving care and to promote change of mentality towards an active role of young people in the decisions affecting their lives.

In addition, the project is creating a virtual exchange platform for young people with care experience that goes alongside the direct exchanges, in person, as a space for their participation and active citizenship. Beyond the project, partners are engaged in creating the European Care Leavers Network, a stable organization based in Brussels that can protect the rights of care leavers in all the EU countries through their direct action. Policies and legislation about leaving the care system, in fact, can differ in a significant way in Europe. The final aim of the promoted activities is to achieve a better situation for care leavers in all the EU countries and to inform and change legislations and policies at EU and national levels using the care leaver voice and experience.

Maria Chiara Vita Finzi