What were the difficulties?
Summer had learned to not trust adults after a number of placement breakdowns made it harder for her to feel secure. She had an avoidant attachment type making her resist allowing her to feel any closeness towards staff. She was affected by the behaviours of the other children and very much wanted to be a part of any negative behaviours.
The work we undertook with Summer and her network
We worked closely with the social worker and her extended family. A family member emerged who could offer Summer a long term family. We shared our experiences with the network regarding what worked well with managing the complexities of her mum’s behaviours. Summer’s new home was a considerable distance from the home. We transported Summer during regular contact and weekend visits so she could start to re-establish her relationship. We had regular meeting and communication sharing ideas and thoughts about what works well and how we could ensure we had a joined up plan to provide Summer with consistency.
Despite trying at the start of the placement, trying to seek rejection Summer was able to start to emotionally relax and believe the team would not reject her. Slowly through patience, resilience and taking a real interest in Summer’s world, staff and Summer started to break through the avoidance, leading to secure relationships. Once Summer was able to feel safe enough to talk about the things that bothered her, the self harm instances reduced and ceased. Substance misuse dropped to only one incident in the last 2 months of her living with us.
During the placement Summer found it hard to accept the offer of relationships from staff. There were a number of instances of threatening and angry behaviour. Summer resisted allowing herself to be open in forming relationships with staff and found it hard to feel secure living with us.
Summer attended Parkview Academy full time. Her attendance was excellent. During her time at school we were able to build a complete picture of Summer and assess her skills and abilities. Working closely with Virtual Schools in the new authority Summer would be residing at, a full time mainstream school placement was secured. Shortly after Summer left her family proudly send us pictures of her in her school uniform on her first day back into mainstream school.
Summer’s progress and achievement
Summer was able to work through her anxiety and mistrust in allowing herself to be open and forming secure relationships with adults. Through key working regarding self-harm and substance misuse she was able to see how this made it harder for extended family members to anticipate offering her a long term home. Summer regularly attended boxing which helped her to regulate her emotions. The change in her behaviours, ability to regulate herself and allow us to coregulate her, enabled her network to see there had been progress to where living with her extended family could be considered. After 9 months with us, Summer was able to move to her long-term home with her family. We continued to have regular contact with Summer after she had left.