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Martina and John’s Story

In 2007, our FFI link social worker brought us details about a 12 year old boy named Derek. He wasn’t going to school, he was drinking and abusing solvents, had recently been diagnosed with ADHD and was refusing to take his medication.

John, the children and I talked it over and thought that as a family we could help Derek. We met with his HSE social worker and then we met Derek and by August that year he came to stay with us.

Shortly after he moved in with us he refused to go to school and when he did go his behaviour was really disruptive. Our FFI link social worker was great. She would call to see us very regularly and would return my calls immediately. I could talk to her about everything that was going on with Derek. She arranged for the FFI Education Liaison Officer (ELO) to help me manage his school placement.

The ELO spoke to the school about Derek and they developed a programme of easing Derek gradually into school on a part-time basis. We would decide day-to-day whether Derek could cope with school and we gave him incentives to encourage him to complete a full week. This worked really well and he moved from attending school a couple of days a week to going every day. He stopped being disruptive and soon he started to make friends in school.

However, Derek hadn’t stopped drinking or abusing solvents and sometimes he would go out drinking and just not come home. We were really worried about him and what to do but the FFI out of hours support team would always be there to help us and to offer practical help. Our link social worker arranged for Derek to work with an FFI child care worker called Paddy to focus on managing drugs and alcohol. This helped a lot and Derek learnt to trust Paddy and saw that he was really trying to help him. He did stop abusing solvents and drinking and as a result his behaviour did improve.

To see Derek now, having completed his leaving certificate and doing a PLC course nearby, gives us a great sense of satisfaction that we made a real and lasting difference to his life. He has a girlfriend. He’s happy. And he’ll be part of our family forever.

We couldn’t have done this for Derek without all the support we got from FFI, especially our monthly support group. This is with our link social worker and the other FFI carers in our area. We meet together and talk about what is going on for us. We know that everyone there is in a similar position and can understand what we talking about.

Fostering has changed our lives. We have made some really great friends and we have seen a real difference in Derek. We ready for our next placement now and all the challenges and rewards that come with it.

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