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This is Billy’s Story…

Billy was taken into foster care when he was aged 6 after he lost both his parents in a short space of time. Devastating as that is, he was taken into foster care with the aim of finding a long-term placement that would give him the stability he needed after such a horrific event.

Naturally, Billy was very upset and angry. He couldn’t understand why both his parents were taken away. How can someone as young as Billy really understand? He struggled at school at an important time when he was about to start secondary school, and he became very withdrawn and his confidence was impacted greatly. It was going to be an incredibly tough time for him and it was vitally important that he was matched with the right foster carers to avoid any further confusion or upset.

Karen was a former headteacher at a local primary school until she retired in 2009. However, she felt she still had so much left to give and the skills and experience she gained from that role would be beneficial to children in care, and so, with her husband John, they decided to look into fostering. They initially fostered with their local authority but transferred to Capstone in 2011 as they wanted to be part of a family and felt the training and support that was available was excellent.

Since 2011, they have fostered 2 children, both long-term placements and have had positive outcomes. Karen’s previous role as a headteacher allows her to understand children and use her experience to overcome issues. As their previous placement had just ended, they were identified as the ideal carers to help Billy in a long-term capacity. Their own birth-children had all grown-up and flown the nest and as they were both retired, they could afford to spend time with Billy and work with him together. Not replacing his mom and dad, but offering him the same care, time and stability that he desperately needed.

At first, Billy struggled to settle in with his Karen and John. Understandably, he was emotional, grieving the loss of his parents and still very young. He would often take out his frustration and anger out on them and his behaviour became challenging. However, after working closely with their supervising social worker at Capstone, they understood his behaviour wasn’t a reflection of Billy himself, but of what he was going through. It was such a big thing to handle at such a young age and he didn’t know how to control his emotions.

Karen and John were fully supported by Capstone during this challenging time with regular meetings, phone calls and support groups. Capstone knew Karen and John possessed the right qualities, discipline and attributes to really transform Billy’s life – it was just going to take time and perseverance.

They wanted to try and incorporate as many traditions and routines that he was used to at home as possible to help him settle, even if these weren’t typical to Karen and John – they wanted him to feel at home but also, provide him with the space if he needed it. Karen and John thought it was important to let him grieve for his mum and dad and were incredibly understanding. They would often talk about his parents with him, look at family photos and talk about his memories.

Billy now 12 has been with Karen and John for 6 years and is just about to enter year 8 at his secondary school. Whilst his first year was difficult at his new school with meeting new people, making new friends and different surroundings, it did take him some time. However, now he has settled and Karen and John have just received his year report which has had excellent comments and feedback from his teachers. Billy is making progress in all subjects and is engaging in class and taking part in after school activities.

It has taken time and a lot of hard work but with the right foster carers, commitment and dedication, amazing things can happen and now Billy’s future is certainly looking brighter and they are already looking at his options once he leaves school.

* Whilst Billy isn’t real, his story is familiar and everyday we support our carers to build positive outcomes and futures for our children and young people..

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