In the company of strangers: Being a child in care
The Local/Extra Local Ellen is a 16-year-old ward of the state who lives in a group home with four other young women.1 On Tuesday she received a telephone call from Peggy, her Children’s Aid Society (CAS)2 social worker, who said that they had to meet. Ellen returned to her group-home after school to see Peggy sitting at the kitchen table. The social worker directed Ellen to the living room. Ellen certainly knew something was in the air for why else would the social worker have made such a big fuss about getting together. Struggling to control her anxiety Ellen settled herself uncomfortably into the overstuffed couch and waited for the social worker to deliver the news. Once the preliminaries were dispatched the social worker informed Ellen that she would have to move at the end of the month to a privatized ‘Outside Placement Resource’ (OPR). The home where Ellen had lived for the past five years was going to be closed as part of the agency’s efforts to reduce costs.