Sue supports Foster Carer Fortnight
10 May 2016
Foster carer Sue Rhodes has opened her home to more than 40 teenagers over the last 30 years.
Sue is among a group of dedicated carers supporting young people in the Wakefield district who, for different reasons, can’t live with their own families and need a safe and caring place to stay for a few days, months or years.
Sue is sharing her experiences to highlight Fostering Fortnight, (May 16- 29) and encourage others to find out more about the caring role.
When she was growing up Sue’s family were foster carers and this sparked her interest. It led her to train and become a foster carer at the age of just 23.She’s never regretted her decision and said: “I was always interested in working with teenagers. Some people may think it’s very difficult and there are times when it’s going to be challenging but I find it very rewarding.
“Everyone’s an individual with different needs. I’ve always felt that if you show them respect, they respect you and you build up trust over time.”
Young people stay for years with Sue often from around the age of 12 to 21, by which time they are ready to move on to the next stage of their lives.
She said: “For lots of different reasons some young people can’t live with their families for months or years. It’s important that I’m very clear that I’m there to help and support them and not to replace their family in any way.”
Fosters carers need patience and tolerance and a willingness to really get to know each young person, in order to provide a sense of stability in turbulent times.
Sue said: “It is very important to take time to get to know each person as an individual, and I’ve always welcomed their friends to visit as well. You need to set boundaries so they know the rules and what to expect.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction in knowing that you are preparing them for the next stage of their lives. I have stayed in touch with some of the young people and their families which has been a bonus.”
Sue would wholeheartedly recommend fostering to others. She said “I’d say ‘go for it’ if you’re interested, as it is so rewarding.
“I have a support worker to help if I’m unsure of anything who I can ring up and ask for advice. We also meet up regularly to see how I’m getting on. It’s a good service and it is reassuring to know that back up is in place if it is needed.”
How to become a foster career
In the Wakefield district more than 300 children and young people are living with foster carers.
But more caring people are needed to meet the demand for placements, and to provide young people with a stable home.
Foster carers don’t need to be married, in a relationship or in paid employment.
They provide a home to a baby, child or young person in the short or long term, and the length of stay can vary from days to months or years.
In Wakefield there is currently a need for carers for children over the age of eight, to look after youngsters with complex needs, and for long term placements.
Cllr Olivia Rowley, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “If you’re a caring person and think this is for you, do get in touch. We have children and young people in the district who need foster care and it is rewarding role.”
Wakefield Council is looking for foster carers over the age of 21, whether they are single applicants or a couple.
Fostering teams need people with patience, tolerance, energy and flexibility and most importantly the ability to provide a loving and secure home for a child.
For more information please visit: www.wakefield.gov.uk/mynewfamily or call 0800 197 0320.