Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Ga., is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and is a 152-bed facility. For more information, visit Shepherd Center online at shepherd.org.
A recent census shows that there are at least 175,000 child carers in the UK, 13,000 of whom care for more than 50 hours a week. Many remain invisible to a system that would otherwise help them. Abigail is one of those children. This is her story.
Ten-year-old Abigail has never known her father. Her mother, Sarah, has multiple sclerosis, and Abigail has been her carer since she was a toddler – shopping, cooking, cleaning and attending to her personal needs. When Sarah is rushed to hospital, suddenly this comes to the attention of the social services, and Abigail has nowhere to go.
Though she doesn’t fit the usual profile of a child that specialist foster carers Casey and Mike Watson would take on, they are happy to step in and look after Abigail. It’s an emergency, after all – and all that’s needed is a loving temporary home, while social services look into how to support the family so that they can be reunited.
But it soon becomes clear that this isn’t going to happen. Sarah’s MS is now at a very advanced stage, and the doctors are certain that there will no longer be periods of remission. Abigail’s emotional state starts to spiral out of control as she struggles to let go of the burden of responsibilities she has carried for so long.
Sarah and Abigail insist that they do not need help, but with no other family to contact, social services are left with no choice but to find long-term care for Abigail, against their wishes. But Casey never gives up on a child in need, and she knows there must be another solution...
Includes a sample chapter of Sunday Times bestseller Trafficked.