Danielle Morris was just four months old when she was taken into foster care. She spent her childhood living with several foster families in Waltham Forest as well as an aunt.
Now aged 22, Danielle has received an award from Waltham Forest Council for getting a 1st class business degree from Brunel University and securing a job with Barnet Virtual School, who ensure that education is put in place for their children in care.
Danielle was one of 11 young adults who grew up in care to receive awards at a ceremony held by Waltham Forest Council celebrating their achievements.
Danielle said: “I want other young people in care to know anything is possible if you set your mind to it and if you set aside enough time for your goals. You will have to give up certain things and keep your focus. Just because society thinks children in care do not necessarily do well, does not mean that has to happen to you.
“When I was younger I felt like I was not like other kids and it took me a while to come to terms with that.
“My aunt who looked after me for seven years was the only person in my family who had been to university. She offered me stability and I know I was going to go and there was no stopping me.”
Other children and young people were nominated for awards by their foster carers and social workers , with more than 100 of them receiving awards. Categories included great attendance at school, wonderful attitudes to learning, much improved behaviour, helping to recruit new social workers and outstanding GCSE results.
One 12-year-old boy was praised for settling into his new secondary school and getting top grades in all his subjects. Another, 15-year-old, boy won an award after becoming the head boy at school.
One teenager was nominated for being extremely kind and caring towards others. Her foster carer said: “No matter how she feels, she will put aside her personal issues to help others. It is a joy to know young people who are as selfless as she is.”
Cllr Grace Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “We are fully committed as a Council to ensuring children who grew up in care get all the support they need to ensure they have good life chances.”
Cllr Williams has also asked all Waltham Forest councillors to pledge their support to children in care and care leavers. Council Leader Clare Coghill has already promised to “raise the profile of our children in care” while Cllr Richard Sweden has pledged to “talk to businesses about opportunities for care leavers.”