Alice, aged four, is snatched by her mother the day she is due to arrive at Cathy's house. Drug-dependent and mentally ill, but desperate to keep hold of her daughter, Alice's mother snatches her from her parents' house and disappears.
Cathy spends three anxious days worrying about her whereabouts before Alice is found safe, but traumatised. Alice is like a little doll, so young and vulnerable, and she immediately finds her place in the heart of Cathy's family. She talks openly about her mummy, who she dearly loves, and how happy she was living with her maternal grandparents before she was put into care. Alice has clearly been very well looked after and Cathy can't understand why she couldn't stay with her grandparents.
It emerges that Alice's grandparents are considered too old (they are in their early sixties) and that the plan is that Alice will stay with Cathy for a month before moving to live with her father and his new wife. The grandparents are distraught – Alice has never known her father, and her grandparents claim he is a violent drug dealer.
Desperate to help Alice find the happy home she deserves, Cathy's parenting skills are tested in many new ways. Finally questions are asked about Alice's father suitability, and his true colours begin to emerge.
Elaine and Ian had travelled half way round the world to adopt little Anna. She couldn’t have been more wanted, loved and cherished. So why was she now in foster care and living with me? It didn’t make sense.
Until I learned what had happened. ...
Dressed only in nappies and ragged T-shirts the children were incarcerated in their cots. Their large eyes stared out blankly from emaciated faces. Some were obviously disabled, others not, but all were badly undernourished. Flies circled around the broken ceiling fans and buzzed against the grids covering the windows. The only toys were a few balls and a handful of building bricks, but no child played with them. The silence was deafening and unnatural. Not one of the thirty or so infants cried, let alone spoke.
Daddy’s Little Princess tells the story of Cathy’s suspicions about there being something wrong with the relationship between Beth, aged 7, and her father Derek. Despite Cathy flagging her concerns to the social worker Jessie, no action is taken. Until Jessie accompanies Beth to the hospital to see her father... Then, suddenly, everything changes. All contact is stopped and Cathy is left to help pick up the pieces as poor Beth struggles to understand what her daddy has done wrong.
Will You Love Me tells the true story of Cathy’s adopted daughter Lucy, who was abused and neglected for most of her childhood. When she comes to live with Cathy, it is thought the damage done is irreversible. But Cathy and her two children bond with Lucy in a way no-one else has been able to, finally showing her the loving home she never believed existed. Cathy and Lucy believe they were always destined to be mother and daughter – it just took them a little while to find each other.
This is the true story of Joss, 13 who is angry and out of control. At the age of nine, Joss finds her father’s dead body. He has committed suicide. Then her mother remarries and Joss bitterly resents her step-father who abuses her mentally and physically.
Cathy takes Joss under her wing but will she ever be able to get through to the warm-hearted girl she sees glimpses of underneath the vehement outbreaks of anger that dominate the house, and will Cathy be able to build up Joss’s trust so she can learn the full truth of the terrible situation?
From the age of 3, Vanessa lived in daily terror of her mother's unpredictable rage. If she was 'naughty', her mother would lash out at her – with beatings, torture, starvation and making Vanessa sleep in their garden's pigsty, tied up like an animal. Her mother said her punishments were God's revenge on her for being the devil's child. Her father lived in denial of her suffering.
When she was 6 years old, Vanessa's grandfather began to sexually abuse her – to her despair, aided and abetted by both her mother and grandmother. At eight years old, she then discovered that the 'mother' who hated her so much had adopted her as a baby and would never love her as her own.
At the most horrific times of Vanessa's abuse, she nearly lost all hope that she would escape her prison, until mysterious things started to happen to her that allowed her to fight back.
This is the story of how Vanessa survived a childhood that nearly destroyed her and how her secret led her out of the horrors of her past.
When Casey first meets Kiera, a small slight girl who’s just lashed out at a fellow pupil in assembly, she immediately senses something’s wrong. Something in Kiera’s eyes alerts Casey that this is an “old head on young shoulders”, and with Kiera’s constant tiredness and self-soothing habit of pulling her hair out, she follows her instinct and takes Kiera under her wing.
At first the answer seems simple enough; Kiera’s parents aren’t together and they don’t get on, which makes life hard for Kiera as she’s so close to her dad. But as the weeks roll on, Casey begins to understand that there’s something much darker going on behind closed doors. And when she finally learns the truth, she’s terrified she won’t be able to save Kiera from it.
Eight-year-old Aimee was on the child protection register at birth. Her five older siblings were taken into care many years ago. So no one can understand why she was left at home to suffer for so long. It seems Aimee was forgotten.
The social services are looking for a very experienced foster carer to look after Aimee and, when she reads the referral, Cathy understands why. Despite her reservations, Cathy agrees to Aimee on – there is something about her that reminds Cathy of Jodie (the subject of ‘Damaged’ and the most disturbed child Cathy has cared for), and reading the report instantly tugs at her heart strings.
When she arrives, Aimee is angry. And she has every right to be. She has spent the first eight years of her life living with her drug-dependent mother in a flat that the social worker described as ‘not fit for human habitation’. Aimee is so grateful as she snuggles into her bed at Cathy’s house on the first night that it brings Cathy to tears.
Aimee’s aggressive mother is constantly causing trouble at contact, and makes sweeping allegations against Cathy and her family in front of her daughter as well. It is a trying time for Cathy, and it makes it difficult for Aimee to settle. But as Aimee begins to trust Cathy, she starts to open up. And the more Cathy learns about Aimee’s life before she came into care, the more horrified she becomes.
It’s clear that Aimee should have been rescued much sooner and as her journey seems to be coming to a happy end, Cathy can’t help but reflect on all the other ‘forgotten children’ that are still suffering...
Justin was five years old; his brothers two and three. Their mother, a heroin addict, had left them alone again. Later that day, after trying to burn down the family home, Justin was taken into care.
Justin was taken into care at the age of five after deliberately burning down his family home. Six years on, after 20 failed placements, Justin arrives at Casey’s home. Casey and her husband Mike are specialist foster carers. They practice a new style of foster care that focuses on modifying the behaviour of profoundly damaged children. They are Justin’s last hope, and it quickly becomes clear that they are facing a big challenge.
Try as they might to make him welcome, he seems determined to strip his life of all the comforts they bring him, violently lashing out at schoolmates and family and throwing any affection they offer him back in their faces. After a childhood filled with hurt and rejection, Justin simply doesn’t want to know. But, as it soon emerges, this is only the tip of a chilling iceberg.
A visit to Justin’s mother on Boxing Day reveals that there are some very dark underlying problems that Justin has never spoken about. As the full picture becomes clearer, and the horrific truth of Justin’s early life is revealed, Casey and her family finally start to understand the pain he has suffered...
Includes a sample chapter of Crying for Help.