When Daryl Brougham was 11, his social worker said: "Daryl, the way you're going, you're going to end up in jail."

He had been in state care since he was 3 months old, torn from foster-parents and a foster-sister whom he loved and placed in numerous homes where he had been beaten and humiliated.

On the day he was told he was heading for jail, he was being moved from a foster home where other children had forced him to eat a spider.

"My way of dealing with it was to be angry, disruptive and abusive with everyone in the house," he writes in his life story Through the Eyes of a Foster Child, published today.


His foster parents couldn't cope and his social worker agreed to move him.

"He stressed that I must stop breaking my placements and to seriously think about the future because, the way I was going, I would end up in jail," he writes.

The social worker was right. A review of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) in September found 63 per cent of people jailed before age 21 had been in state care or reported to CYF for care and protection issues as children.

That prediction could have destroyed any hope of a better life but Mr Brougham was determined to prove it wrong. Last year he graduated with a degree in social work and this year, as a CYF employee, he walked into that social worker's office. "I said, 'You're the one who said I was going to end up in jail. Isn't it ironic that now I'm working here?'"

Mr Brougham decided he was going to use his experiences to make the system better. He has spoken to thousands of foster children in almost 80 homes.

"We would share a lot of stuff together," he said.

"Always the first two questions were, 'How many times have you been moved?' and 'How many times have they hit you?'"

He said most foster parents have the heart to care for a child that is not their own, but they were not trained to cope with children acting out to deal with trauma and often "frustration turns into abuse".


Mr Brougham, who has now left CYF and has two young children with partner Emily Gao, hopes to use his book to educate foster parents and social workers.

Through the Eyes of a Foster Child, AM Publishing, $24.99; www.darylbrougham.com.