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Martina and John’s Story

In 2007, our FFI link social workerbrought us details about a 12 year oldboy named Derek. He wasn’t going to school, he was drinking and abusingsolvents, had recently beendiagnosed with ADHD and was refusingto take his medication.

John, the children and I talked it overand thought that as a family we couldhelp Derek. We met with his HSEsocial worker and then we met Derekand by August that year he came tostay with us.

Shortly after he moved in with us herefused to go to school and whenhe did go his behaviour was reallydisruptive. Our FFI link social workerwas great. She would call to see usvery regularly and would return mycalls immediately. I could talk to herabout everything that was going onwith Derek. She arranged for the FFIEducation Liaison Officer (ELO) to helpme manage his school placement.

The ELO spoke to the school about Derek and they developed aprogramme of easing Derek graduallyinto school on a part-time basis. Wewould decide day-to-day whether Derekcould cope with school and we gavehim incentives to encourage him tocomplete a full week. This worked really well and he movedfrom attending school a couple of daysa week to going every day. He stoppedbeing disruptive and soon he started tomake friends in school.

However, Derek hadn’t stopped drinkingor abusing solvents and sometimes hewould go out drinking and just not comehome. We were really worried about himand what to do but the FFI out of hourssupport team would always be there tohelp us and to offer practical help. Ourlink social worker arranged for Derek towork with an FFI child care worker calledPaddy to focus on managing drugs andalcohol. This helped a lot and Dereklearnt to trust Paddy and saw that hewas really trying to help him. He didstop abusing solvents and drinking andas a result his behaviour did improve.

To see Derek now, havingcompleted his leaving certificate and doing a PLC coursenearby, gives us a greatsense of satisfaction thatwe made a real and lastingdifference to his life. He hasa girlfriend. He’s happy.And he’ll be part of ourfamily forever.

We couldn’t have done this for Derekwithout all the support we got from FFI,especially our monthly support group.This is with our link social worker andthe other FFI carers in our area. Wemeet together and talk about what isgoing on for us. We know that everyonethere is in a similar position and canunderstand what we talking about.

Fostering has changed our lives. Wehave made some really great friendsand we have seen a real differencein Derek. We ready for our nextplacement now and all the challengesand rewards that come with it.

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