Former foster child helping others like him

Published On: Aug 09 2012 12:06:58 AM PDT
Former foster child helping others like him
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Chris Patterson works with kids at Breakthrough, a behavioral rehabilitation service (BRS).

"We take very extreme kids. They could be dual diagnosed (like) bi-polar, autistic, Down syndrome. (They have) very high needs, a very high IQ, are very manipulative and can be very behavioral at times," said Patterson.

Breakthrough runs six group homes, five in Spokane and one in Kennewick. They can treat up to 30 teenagers at a time.

"Every kid who walks through has a different on what they have to do to survive. It's always on a survival mode," said Patterson.

Patterson knows a thing our two about survival, as he grew up in the system.

He went into foster care when he was 2 and was adopted by a local family at age 4. After some family issues when he was 12 years old, he went back into foster care. He then went to a group home, a receiving foster home and then lived with a foster family until adulthood.

"I had typical issues. I definitely had my problems," said Patterson.

He said he doesn't harbor any ill will against his adoptive parents or even his biological parents.

"You can have heart. You can have faith. You can have all the belief in the world but you really have to know what you're going to put yourself into," said Patterson.

He says that's a problem with many people whose hearts are in the right place, in helping kids, but really aren't prepared. He said what young people need to heal is someone who won't give up on them.

"You want to know you're safe. You want to know you're not going to be victimized or abused or taken advantage of," said Patterson.

They also need families who won't be too soft.

"You have to be able to set boundaries. You have to be able to show consistency. Everything else comes into play once you set the structure," said Patterson.

He hope to set that structure through his leadership at Breakthrough and the community.

He's impressed a lot of people. He's taken a role in leadership in Spokane, on a number of boards of directors and has even been recognized in this article in Spokane's Business Catalyst Magazine.

Patterson admits that he's not a real emotional person, which is probably why he's so good at his job.

"I definitely have hot spots about things that I'm very passionate about, and that's the kids," said Patterson.