Tegan is a 15-year-old female who is good company, a joy to spend time with and loves baking, arts and crafts. Tegan has been known to Telford & Wrekin Council for a number of years and long-standing concerns associated to attachment led to Tegan becoming looked after following physical chastisement and difficult relationships with her birth family. As a result of this Tegan finds it very difficult to trust adult care givers and feel safe and cared for.
Tegan experienced numerous moves, including living with extended family but struggled to identify with those around her and experienced home after home. These moves meant Tegan was parted from her brothers and sisters and alongside this, she developed a coping strategy to manage her emotions through use of self-harm. This coping strategy helped Tegan to express emotions but came with increasing risks to her health and wellbeing.
In order to support Tegan best, a residential provision was identified which could provide high levels of supervision and support. This environment and the therapeutic approaches adopted by staff, helped Tegan to feel safe and the harm to herself would reduce at times. Although ultimately, this remained a coping strategy of everyday life, increasing at times of high emotion or change.
From a risk adverse approach, Tegan would remain living in a residential setting to ensure the self-harm could be managed. However, Tegan said very strongly that she wanted to live with a family and supported by a forward-thinking Local Authority, she was put forward for The Big Fostering Partnership, making Tegan the focus of the future rather than her self-harm.
The Big Fostering Partnership, through its delivery partner National Fostering Group were able to identify a foster family approved with one of groups smaller agencies in the local area. Based in Telford, the foster carers presented an opportunity for Tegan to live in a family setting, whilst having the knowledge and experience of meeting the needs presented by Tegan’s coping strategies. The main carer had previously worked in residential settings and has extensive experience of both working with children in residential and also supporting self-harming behaviours.
The Local Authority felt this gave Tegan the opportunity to live in a family and grow and explore the benefits this could give her as she moves towards independence. Set against a global pandemic, creative planning enabled Tegan to get to know the foster carers and the positive relationships began to develop. Tegan was excited to spend time with the foster carers and looked forward to being part of the family. Ongoing meetings with professionals supported the process and collaborative working approaches provided an infrastructure to a successful move to the foster carers. The foster carers commented that support is ‘excellent’ and ‘essential to ensure everything is achievable’.
With change and uncertainty came an increased need for Tegan to hurt herself at times. Together the National Fostering Group and the Local Authority have provided an intense clinical and social care support package; reviewed weekly enabling subtle changes to ensure Tegan continues to settle in and the foster carers feel supported and part of a robust team. The developing relationship with her new family is helping to prove to Tegan that she is important and that her coping mechanisms do not stop her being part of a family. Tegan is a true example of why The Big Fostering Partnership exists and what is possible for young people.
You can find out more on the Big Fostering Partnership here.