Pat has been fostering with Fostering People since 2015. Pat has worked with children for 40 years, most recently as a social work, working in education. But Pat wanted a change of direction and saw an advert for the Fostering People information evening. She knew that Fostering People were a new agency in Scotland and being part of a new venture interested her. As Pat describes “I have always wanted to work with children. I worked as a social worker for 26 years and over that time there were cuts to the service and I felt that I was no longer doing any direct work with children. Instead my role had evolved into an advisory role to the education service for child protection. I decided to take the leap to become a foster carer, to work directly with children, knowing there were always children in need”.
Pat’s two daughters are both supportive of fostering. Her eldest daughter’s husband is able to be a really positive male role model for children in her care. Pat’s youngest daughter, aged 23 years’ lives at home. Pat says “fostering has shown her what it would have been like to have a younger sibling. She has fully embraced fostering and is really useful too, she can help with all the technology that is part of any young person’s life and she has a great rapport with the young man who is placed with me”.
Pat’s first placement was for a teenage girl. Pat had always thought that she would care for younger children, but it was an emergency placement, for a 14 year old girl. Pat says “I agreed to the placement because it was supposed to be for 2 nights, it lasted for 6 weeks in the end, but it worked well and the move was a positive one”.
Pat’s next placement was for a young boy called Freddie. Freddie has now been part of Pat’s life for the last year and the match has been a wonderful benefit to him and Pat as well.
Freddie came into care due to a background of neglect. Pat describes “he has experienced many difficulties and it would probably have been better for him to have come into care sooner. He is one of 3 siblings, and alongside the neglect, he also experienced sexual, emotional and physical abuse which has come to light since coming into care. Freddie had experienced two placement breakdowns before coming to live with Pat and her daughter. “I was mindful of the challenges Freddie would present and also that both his previous placements had had two foster carers, yet I was a single carer, but Fostering People were confident due to my background that I would cope. When Freddie first came to me, he was a very anxious little boy aged 10. He was like a rabbit in the headlights, very uptight, institutionalised almost and regimental. He couldn’t waiver from his routine and didn’t have any sense of humour. You couldn’t joke with him, even lightly as he just didn’t understand and took everything you said very literally and personally.
School was a big issue too, he has strong mood swings and needs a lot of supervision. You need to recognise his warning signs, if you do you can divert him and stop his behaviour escalating. He is learning that good behaviour is rewarded and there are consequences to poor behaviour. Although Freddie is 10 years old, in many ways he acts a lot younger than his age”.
During his year with Pat and her daughter, Freddie has thrived on the attention his has had as a result of being an only child in the placement.
Pat has a great sense of pride in Freddie’s achievements as she describes “Freddie is a very charming young man and now has a great sense of humour and laughs all the time. Any difficult behaviours in the home are very few and far between and are mostly caused by things that happen outside the home. School is still an issue and Freddie attends a behavioural support unit during the morning and school in the afternoon”.
Pat tell us how she manages some of Freddie’s more challenging behaviour. “At home we practice having time in rather than time out if he breaks down, knowing that I am there really helps him. If he goes to his room following poor behaviour, the door is open and he knows I am just there and that really helps Freddie to come down following a temper tantrum. In the past Freddie has been known to self-harm in temper, but this no longer happens. Overall he is a very relaxed and chilled out little boy who feels at home.
School is still an issue, and Freddie has missed out on a lot of formal education and due to his time in the behavioural support unit, he is a long way behind in his education despite being very bright. Pat describe how she tests his knowledge without him realising what she is doing, “for example when we are out, I’ll say to Freddie that I don’t have my glasses on, can you just read this for me, this way I can see what Freddie is capable of without him being aware”.
Freddie has been a very challenging placement, but with Pat’s care and nurture he has turned a huge corner in his behaviour, and has laid the foundation for him to move on to a foster carer who can care for Freddie until he reaches independence.