Lee had been in care since he was 5 years old. He had 10 foster placements before he reached 11 years old when he was placed in residential units thereafter. It was a regular pattern in the foster homes; he would target someone in the house and ridicule and demean them until they were emotionally worn out and gave notice on the placement. He had been rejected by everyone in his life so had no expectations of relationships.
Lee began offending when he was 11 years old with peers from the residential unit. Minor offences at first like shoplifting and breach of the peace, but then it escalated to theft from a person, commercial burglary and carrying an offensive weapon (knife). He was excluded from numerous schools and began to abscond from the residential units. There were fears about his safety and the only place able to contain him was secure accommodation. When ‘locked up’ he was generally compliant although staff always described him as ‘distant and difficult to get close to’. When Lee was older he was able to admit that he liked the status and attention offending gave him.
A year after working with Lee we had developed a positive relationship. He said I was a boomerang and every time he tried to get rid of me I came back. He felt accepted for who he was and stopped trying to be difficult. After another 6 months he agreed to try living in a family environment again. By then he had a good understanding of his previous patterns of behaviour.
When Lee was due for release from secure accommodation, we had identified a foster carer for him. Lee knew it would be a condition of his licence to live there for 3 months. Lee moved in with Jane and Dave and their 8 year old son when he was 14 ½ years old. He was still there when he was 16 years old. The family had seen past all of Lee’s previous behaviours, offences and labels he had accumulated. They reflected on his history and approached the placement with an open mind, determined to show him that they were ‘in it for the long haul’. Lee allowed himself to develop an attachment to the family. Perhaps it was the fact that he only saw it as temporary initially and this reduced the pressure, but whatever the reason he accepted the help and support they offered.
Undoubtedly, Jane and Dave were the catalyst for change for Lee.”