Fighting the Stereotype Surrounding Foster Care

Fighting the Stereotype Surrounding Foster Care

‘Tracey Beaker’ and ‘The Dumping Ground’ are two things that spring to mind when thinking about foster care. As a care experienced young person I am fighting back. Young people in foster care deserve to have their voice heard and not have a stereotype shape society's view of them.  

I am Tayler and here is a snippet of my story.

Early Years

I went into Foster Care when I was 4 years old. Up until this point I was living with my alcoholic mother and had a father who was drug dependent (who lived down the road). In short, not a place for a young child to grow up in. After being on the register of neglect for a couple of months social services stepped up after a very traumatic incident and took me and my twin sister away.

We were in short term placements up until we were six years of age and in all honesty at this stage I didn’t really understand why I kept on being moved from home to home. After two years of being passed around like a relay stick we stayed in kinship care, which is where you get looked after by a family member but social services are still in the picture. We stayed with our mothers sister.
It is safe to say no caring happened. Abuse did and a lot of it.

From physical abuse to neglect to sexual abuse it all happened in that house.
I now refer to it as the Hell House.

When I was eight years old I remember having my first suicidal thought. I was forced to stand outside in the pouring rain with no coat because I got mud on my trousers. By this point I was getting beaten up for breathing, it was the worst time of my life. I will simply never be able to understand how an adult could beat a child, a vulnerable child. If I was crying, usually the words ‘I will give you something to cry about’ would follow. Anyway, when I was standing outside I just remember talking to my sister about how much easier it would be to die. We didn’t want to live anymore. Luckily, I had my twin and she was my saving grace. I have no idea if either one of us would be here if we didn’t have each other during our six years in the Hell House.

After six years a series of events led to us being taken away and thank God we did because at this stage I was starting to fight back. I was 12 and I had the mentality if I don’t kill myself I will end up killing my abusers.

My time at Hell House was the worst years of my life and hugely affects me to this day. I can’t even hear a baby cry without thinking what if that child is being abused. When I was younger I learnt very quickly that I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening because I thought if anyone found out I would get into 10 times the amount of trouble. It is alot for a child to go through, especially for their mental health.

When people ask what I was like growing up I simply say I don't know because the only real feeling I remember is being scared. I always had a lump in my throat just scared to speak, laugh or be a child.

Before I get into my adolescent years I want to share that my younger self was so strong and I have no idea how much lived through her experiences at Hell House.



I am now living in a home where I felt love, warmth and the feeling of a full stomach. I moved schools, had friends-ish, joined scouts and I was living my life.

Although, I was becoming increasingly aware of the differences between me and my peers.

They didn’t have to send consent forms to the council.
They didn’t have meetings during school hours with all sorts of ‘professionals’. They didn’t have to get their friends to have a DBS check if they wanted to pop over after school.

It was so difficult because not only was I trying to understand why I was made to feel different but I was feeling my emotions of my past bubble up from time to time. I had so much trauma which I didn’t know how to process. I turned to music. I became a clarinettist and it healed me in ways I can’t explain. Don’t get me wrong I still struggle regularly but if I didn't have music I would be a very different woman.

After being secure for a little while this placement broke down and the cycle started again. During my adolescent years I moved to 8 placements. Let me break that down from when I was 12 to 18 I moved 8 placements. I didn't unpack my black bag unless I knew I was going to stay longer for a couple of months (huge boost to my confidence keeping my belongings in a black bag! Yes, the black bags that you put your rubbish in!).

During my adolescent years my self confidence kept on being knocked. It is really difficult to describe the feeling but as a child I felt like I wasn’t wanted and this loop continued until I left the care system. I felt worthless and unwanted.

My mental health during my adolescent years had similar characteristics to the sea. Some days huge waves and other days saw smaller waves but nonetheless there were always waves. Often the emotions and the rejection of my past would get too much and unfortunately I couldn’t cope. I ended up self-harming.

I tried counselling but unfortunately I wasn’t mature enough to understand or deal with what happened. Why didn’t my parents want me? Why did I get beat up by my auntie everyday? Why did I starve? Why do I have to send all my forms to the council? Why, Why Me?

Alongside my music, school was a constant and it was my safe place. Many people hate school but when you are getting abused at home and are constantly unsure where you are going to sleep each night, the thought of school doesn’t seem so bad. I had my heart set on going to university. In amongst the turmoil of my life I worked extremely hard in school. I thought if I got to university I would finally feel freedom and boy did I feel the freedom.



I made it! September 2019 saw me heading to Aberystwyth University. I went to study a Joint Honours in Film, Television & Scenography, Theatre Design and I loved it. For the first time I was in control of my future. I had my own room. I had new friends and I was so happy. I did miss my twin sister of course but I needed to do this for me.

When I was at University I used my past as the backboard for my two dissertation style projects. I made a documentary on the fact that only ‘6% of care leavers go to university’ and then a gallery piece on the deterioration of mental health (which can be found here). Both pieces were well received and I ended up leaving university with a First Class Honours. It truly was a special time for me.

I made lifelong friends, I learnt and I experienced so much but most importantly I felt safe. Something that I didn’t feel too much growing up in the care system.

In short, university was my one way ticket out of the hell I fell victim to.

During this time my mental health was healing. I regularly journaled, I started sharing my past publicly (I was not going to remain silent), I became a runner and ended up running the London Marathon for the NSPCC <3

I was no longer afraid. I did things that my inner child wanted. I coloured in lots of picture books, read all my favourite books, baked cookies, jumped in all the puddles and got my trousers muddy. Most importantly I felt and listened to all of those feelings that I had been trying to block out for years. If I needed to cry I cried (I didn’t have my abuser saying ‘I’ll give you something to cry about’ I just let myself deal with my emotions one wave at a time).

My university years saw a huge change in every area of my life and I was so happy about it.

Tackling my 20s

I have graduated and now I have to tackle the adult world. At present I am 22 and I am learning new things about the world and myself daily.

I struggle hugely with PTSD which all stems from the abuse I received at the Hell House but overall I am a functioning adult contributing to society in the best way I can. I now share my story in the hope to shine light on the fact that foster care is nothing like ‘Tracey Beaker’ and actually to think that the house is called the ‘Dumping Ground’ has huge negative connotations. A dump is for trash and that is something I am not. I am a strong woman who fell victim to my parents' mistakes.

I am still in the process of getting counselling for my PTSD but in all honesty I am so proud of how I have managed to cope up until this point and I regularly undertake tasks that make me feel my feelings.
Journaling is one way I am attempting to heal myself. I love it when my journals have beautiful covers and that's the one reason I love the DayDot journals! My favourite at the moment is Astral :) 

I also have a podcast called Tay Does Life where I speak to other inspiring people and we can attempt to heal together.

My younger self was so strong. I now work everyday to heal her. She deserves the world but most importantly the world deserves her. <3

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Tayler Walters


Hi, I am Tayler Walters. A care survivor and an advocate for the rights of care experienced young people. I spent 14 years in the care system therefore, I think I am more than experienced. I am now 22 years young and love all things running, theatre and podcasting.  I could talk for Wales and get told regularly I should start a podcast but to some people's surprise I already have one called, Tay Does Life.


Website - 

Insta - @tay_does_life 

Youtube - 

LinkTree - 

Podcast - Tay Does Life

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