Susan’s journey

Susan is a happy, outgoing young person who has been living with her foster carer, Sandra, for four years now. Life for Susan has not always been happy and from a young age she was subjected to physical abuse from her birth parents. She has managed to overcome significant challenges in her life thanks to the support of Sandra, and the love and patience she has shown her.

Susan had a difficult and unhappy childhood. She had experienced five different foster placements before arriving to stay with Sandra. Most of these were a result of foster carers’ circumstances changing. Susan believed that things didn’t work out because nobody wanted her to live with them. She found the transition of moving to new carers very difficult and her behaviour could present challenges. Susan thought that there was no point in getting attached to the carers as they would reject and send her away anyway. The foster carers described how verbally and physically abusive she was towards them.

Susan had come into the care of the local authority aged eight years, following disclosure at school of sexual and physical abuse from her birth parents. She has two older siblings, both of whom were also removed from their birth parents and placed in care. Her brother and sister now have their own homes but maintain contact with Susan.

Due to Susan’s troubled past, her social worker recognised that for her next placement, Susan’s carer would require additional support to be in place. The social worker met with staff from Kibble’s Intensive Fostering service to discuss Susan’s needs. She felt that the level of outreach support for the young person and carer, as well as supervision and attending meetings with other foster carers, would increase the likelihood of the placement’s success.

Sandra worked in social care before deciding to change her career and become a foster carer. She had a wealth of experience in working with children and young adults at risk, so this career choice was ideal for her.

When Susan initially moved to live with Sandra, she presented lots of challenges through her behaviour. Sandra recalls how Susan would shout and swear at her and threaten to run away, sometimes disappearing for hours at a time. She accessed additional support from Kibble and emphasised to Susan that she was not going anywhere, this was her home and Sandra wanted her to stay. Sandra acknowledged that this was not an easy time for either her or Susan, however gradually there were changes that gave her hope.

Susan moved to a local school and began making friends. She spoke of her future and wanting to work with animals when she was older, and benefited from attending weekly art therapy classes at Kibble. Sandra says she can’t imagine her life without Susan now and whilst fostering has challenged her in so many ways, she believes the rewards have more than exceeded this.