Professional Zone

Case study

Zoe was 13 when she contacted Coram Voice.  She had been living in a foster care placement for 2 years but her carers were starting to express concern that they could not continue to look after her as she had started to self harm by cutting herself.  Her carers didn’t have the knowledge or skill to help her with this, and they were also worried about how her behaviour would impact on their 5 year old son.

Zoe’s social worker told her she would be better off in a Children’s Home as the staff would have more experience and would be there during the night, which was the time when Zoe often cut herself.

Zoe called Coram Voice saying she really didn’t want to move, the foster care placement was the first place where she had felt settled. She said that moving would make things much worse for her.  Zoe had previously resisted getting treatment for her self-harming, but now said she would go to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) if that meant she could stay with her carers.

Coram Voice contacted her social worker, who said that Zoe has a history of “attention seeking behaviour” and that there were no guarantees that that would change. Her advocate then asked for a meeting between Zoe, her social worker and the team manager.  The team manager was more sympathetic and agreed that it was worth asking the carers if they would reconsider.  She also suggested a package of support for the carers to help give them the confidence to help Zoe if she continued to struggle.

The foster carers were happy to commit to another 6 months of looking after Zoe on the basis that she went to CAMHS and that they also got support.  They said they would like to review their decision at the end of this 6 month period.  Zoe was fortunate to get an early appointment with a CLAMHS service (Children Looked After Mental Health Service).  Although it took some time for her to feel confident to open up to the service, she gradually became more able to manage her emotions and to also use the support that was now available from her foster carers when she began to feel like cutting herself.  The placement continued after the 6 month trial period and Zoe made very good progress.