'I had 14 foster homes in 21 years - the system needs to change'

Jamie Dalgoutte, 29, was in care from when he was just six months old right up until he turned 21.

University of Glasgow graduate who spent 21 years in foster care says system needs change UofG

A Glasgow graduate has said that Scotland’s foster care system needs change after enduring a childhood “riddled with abandonment”.

Jamie Dalgoutte, 29, was in care from just six months old right up until he turned 21, and had 14 different foster families by the time he turned five.

His mother suffered from addiction issues and passed away when he was ten years old, and he was estranged from his father.

“It was one of the hardest childhoods that anyone could have, honestly,” Mr Dalgoutte told STV News.

Mr Dalgoutte graduated from the University of Glasgow this year.

“Every day in the system was full of rejection and riddled with abandonment – I felt like there was a lack of love throughout my 21 years.”

Now, having graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in community development, Mr Dalgoutte wants to create change in the care system and how care-experienced children view their futures.

“When I think back to my past, I always think about the wee guy I was – how there were some people who helped me and some who didn’t.

“As I got older, because of my background I got drawn into community work, and found great comfort in helping other people.

“The world can be a very bad place, but as a community worker, you can help a few people change a lot of lives.”

Mr Dalgoutte said that, while the fostering system specifically has gotten better over the years, many carers continue to not be trained for the role.

“I’m now gearing up to create a workshop programme beginning this November, in which I will go through my lived experience and that of others who grew up in the fostering system.

“It will take an in-depth look at what went wrong and, more importantly, what went right – and how we can try to implement those actions.”

He credits a formal diagnosis for ADHD and the support of former head teacher Billy Brotherston from Greenwood Academy as a major turning point in his academic career.

“We have to look at the elements that worked out, and what helped,” he said.

“It won’t be the same for everyone since the care system is so unique to individuals – some people spend just a few months with foster placements whereas others might spend their entire lives.

“But building that framework is something that I think can help. I want to continue to learn and grow, despite being done with my degree, and continue to help where I can.”

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