Back on TrACK with foster care

July 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Posted in About Fostering, Articles, Resources, Stories | Leave a comment

As the Anglicare Victoria report into Educational Outcomes for Children in Out of Home Care has found, keeping kids in foster care engaged in school and education is a major challenge. Education is key to future opportunities for children and young people when they become adults, but experiences of trauma, instability and other difficulties form significant barriers to children achieveing their dreams.

In Jamie’s* case though, effective interventions, encouragement and persistance by a range of professionals involved in his life have led to a turn around in his engagement in school. It’s a great example of the ways that new therapuetically based programs such as Anglicare Victoria’s TrACK program are able to make a real difference in the lives of children and young people.   

Jamie* first came into foster care when he was four years old due to abuse and domestic violence in his family. He was targeted by his stepfather and eventually rejected when his step-siblings were in the family home.

Early years in foster care were plagued by instability with a number of different placements and his behaviours became very difficult to manage. He was throwing tantrums for hours on end, needing to control everyone and everything around him, lashing out in anger without real cause, fire lighting and generally being oppositional towards any adult guidance. His caseworkers decided he should move into a children’s Residential Care Unit.

 Then at seven years old Jamie moved in with a new foster family as part one of Anglicare Victoria’s therapeutic programs.

As part of this program the foster family were given extra training, resources and support in order to re-parent Jamie to help him overcome his traumaic background.

Jamie had counselling from the Australian Childhood Foundation on a regular basis. His foster carers also had the support of psychologists and other specialists to give them advice about how to respond to his behaviours in a way which would help him learn new behaviours and recover from his trauma.

His carers were also able to work together with the school to increase his attendance and Jamie’s natural parents were also offered education about his challenges and how to help him recover from the trauma of his early life.

 It wasn’t easy for anyone, but over time improvements could be seen in Jamie’s behaviour.

 
With some changes to the family’s living arrangements and the support of extended family, Jamie started staying with his natural family every second weekend, re-empowering them to care for him. Relationships were improving and eventually Jamie was able to return to his mother’s care full-time.

 Now at 12 years old Jamie continues to live with his mother and his family. Although Jamie’s behaviour is much improved, it will take years to fully resolve. Jamie’s mum sometimes rings the foster carers for tips and advice when things get difficult and Jamie still occasionally visits his former foster carers for the weekend..

 Jamie knows that he has two families who both care about him and whom work together to do their best by him.

*Names and images in this story have been changed in the interests of privacy

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