Fostering young people with complex needs in the midlands

Archived: Posted March 6, 2013

It took four years to confirm the diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). By that time Luke was 17 and had settled into a long term fostering placement. This diagnosis referred to a stream of obsessive and relentless patterns of behaviour; a restless underpinning that consumed every aspect of Luke’s life.

Luke’s story is remarkable – a true example that boundaries are there to be broken and living proof that with enough small steps we can make significant strides.

For carers fostering in Shrewsbury, Cathy and Calvin – former publicans and community scheme workers – life experience has provided an invaluable foundation for their fostering journey. “We’d always had a house full of children, sometimes with pretty challenging behaviour,” describes Calvin. “Our son was a foster carer and it was something that we wanted to explore – we knew what was entailed in the fostering task and that we could apply our experience to help others.”

Coming into foster care in Shrewsbury

At two years old Luke had responsibilities for looking after his sister and subsequently five younger brothers, as his mother suffered from serious learning difficulties. Luke was taken into care at the age of eight and, following four placement breakdowns, at the age of thirteen he was taken in by Core Assets foster carers Cathy and Calvin.

Luke’s compulsive behaviour has developed in his teenage years. While there are genetic factors contributing to his behavioural issues, many of these patterns can be attributed to a manifestation of the traumas suffered in his formative years, as well as later incidents of abuse.

Looking back to the beginning of the placement, Cathy recalls the first instances of Luke’s complex needs.

“At first everything was pretty normal,” says Cathy. “But we then began noticing examples of more obsessive behaviour. I remember one instance when Luke wanted the sheets on his bed to be changed ‘because they didn’t feel right’. Then the controlling behaviour began, most significantly regarding ‘Luke’s time’ and ‘Luke’s belongings’. I’d never met anyone with such a negative attitude towards every aspect of life – he was so insular.”

Fostering ‘one step at a time’

To react to Luke’s behaviour, it was important for Cathy and Calvin to truly understand why these behavioural patterns were occurring. There was a need for a resilient approach that stayed true to the principles of ‘one step at a time’.

As an understanding developed within their home, the carers also benefited from a high level of carer training and fostering support delivered by Core Assets Fostering.

“We have received brilliant support from Core Assets Fostering”, states Cathy. “In particular, our Social Worker has been absolutely fantastic. I’m not a one-woman show, I need Team Parenting™. The CYPSS workers, the Education Officers and the network of fellow Core Assets foster carers have each provided a hugely beneficial level of support – we have also made some wonderful friendships in the process.

“We are also highly appreciative of respite care, which gives us a break from the intensity of Luke’s behaviour. And also the help of the Therapist, which has benefited not only Luke but the rest of the family. Fostering is a family thing – you foster as a family not as an individual.”

Cathy and Calvin have nurtured Luke through all aspects of everyday life.

“We measure our achievements through small events,” explains Calvin. “We often recall when Luke started to swim – noting that he had a fear of the water. Over a course of sessions he gained confidence and got more immersed in the water. This culminated in a highly emotive achievement when he swam for the first time.”

While Luke’s future post-18 will begin in sheltered accommodation, the progress made in this placement will provide him with the life skills he needs to move forward. “Luke’s a completely different person now,” says Cathy. “I remember when I taught him how to brush his teeth – he was 13 years old.  To see him getting on a bus on his own now is remarkable and so rewarding.”

Fostering in Shrewsbury

“Every child should be given the opportunity to reach their potential, at whatever level that may be,” says Calvin. “We encourage anybody who’s thought about fostering to look into it further and find out more. Don’t discount yourself based on qualifications; more important is life experience.

“For placements where complex needs and challenging behaviour is involved it’s all about understanding, stickability and resilience. There are some fantastic children and young people out there who just need a chance to live within a family environment. Core Assets Fostering will support you to support them.”

GO BACK

How can we help?

Ready to start fostering a child or young person? Or just want a bit more information to help you decide whether fostering is for you? All you need to do is contact us.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we're here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in your area.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we,re here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in you area
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Share This With A Friend