DUMPED near a rubbish bin at three-months-old Daryl Brougham was found covered in severe eczema and urine burns.
A ward of the state, he never knew his biological family and was moved from home to home as a child.
Now a social worker, Mr Brougham is in Armidale for Foster Care Awareness Week to give a voice to the experiences of foster children.
At age five he was found locked up in a room in the home of one of his carers, covered in adult bite marks and weighing less than a 10-month-old baby.
“An investigation was done and afterward the family applied to take us to America and the application was granted, that’s where the abuse continued,” he said.
Eventually Mr Brougham came back to New Zealand where he would move through 83 different foster homes, 27 schools, and work with more than 30 social workers.
“For me it got to a point where I couldn't be bothered in the end and I could only trust myself and my own instincts.
“Those impacts go to your adulthood as well and that takes a lot of unpacking.
“I've lived in foster care for 6000 days, that's 130,000 hours, that's huge amounts of exposure to a system where you see so many loopholes.
“It's through those negative experiences that I'm able to show those loopholes and turn my experience into a positive,” he said.
Mr Brougham believes there is a lack of education for both foster carers and social workers about the experiences of children in care.
“If you were to ask me five years ago how to solve these problems [with the foster care system] I would have said I don't know, five years later I can say education.
“We need to make communities aware, agencies aware that these are the impacts and that's the only way to deliver quality,” he said.
Mr Brougham said that the system desperately needs more foster carers.
“We need more carers and it's an exciting and rewarding role, I've met so many who love it, who have done it for many years and get so much fulfillment from that,” he said.
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