What our foster carers have to say
Foster carer Suzette Richards-Selano has been a foster carer for 11 years, but she is the first to admit that she is still learning – and still loving every minute of it.
Suzette cares for children aged five to 18 years old on a respite basis, which means she looks after youngsters, usually over a weekend, to give the rest of the family a break and allow them to catch up on family life.
She has supported other foster carers with difficult placements, supported school pickups as a backup carer and had mother and baby placements. While Suzette does not have overnight stays, she does act as an advocate for the child or young person.
When Suzette is asked to help a family, a plan is put in place that is designed to help the young person with difficulties they are experiencing while at the same time providing respite for the parents.
“The idea is to ensure that when the young person returns home there is more understanding in place,” she explained.
Where the family relationship breaks down, Suzette’s role is to minimise the damage over the long term, and try to prevent it becoming a total breakdown with the person going into care.
On a Saturday or Sunday, they chose an activity and spend time with Suzette at her home.
She has a passion for fashion, and completed her degree as an award winner, and now has her own label. It’s a love that Suzette has shared with the people who have spent time with her.
“I love to share my creative passions with the young people I help and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to hear that they have decided to pursue fashion, either just as an interest or in their GCSE or A-level studies,” she commented.
The younger of Suzette’s two sons was six years old when she started fostering and is now 17, so he has grown accustomed to people coming into the house for support.
“Now that he is older he is interested in trying to help and support the children or young people who visit the house,” Suzette explained. “He has lived with it so it comes naturally to him.
“The rest of my family are the same, always supportive and asking after the people they have met in the past.”
As well as fashion, Suzette loves keeping fit and enjoys long walks with friends as well as reading.
She explained: “The best thing about being a foster carer is walking down the street, hearing a young person shout my name and seeing the smile on their face as they run up and chat to me.
“More than anything else, I love knowing that what I did counted and that I had the opportunity to be an influence in their life.
“I also love it when they come back to visit. They put their foot inside the threshold of the door but generally they don’t say too much; they just come into the house. It is as if nothing needs to be said and that they just need some time to catch up and recharge their emotional batteries.
“Then they leave and continue on their way.”
To find out more about fostering, along with the support and training the Council can offer, visit www.rbkc.gov.uk/fostering or call 020 8753 1057 or 0800 169 3497.
"I began fostering because I wanted to help children and care for them as part of my family. I started with older children and recently I’ve been mainly fostering babies. My daughter enjoys their company. It feels great when you see the changes you have helped bring to childrens’ lives, when they grow up and learn to smile and trust you. I really feel I am “giving back” to society."
Yerga and Tesfai
“We have been fostering since January 2003 and have looked after eight children from 8 - 18 years. We love giving children consistency and unconditional support to help them develop confidence and trust. We help young people to achieve their personal best in all they do. Our own three-year-old now has friends to play with and she can learn about different cultures and backgrounds while the foster children live with us.”
“My name is Hanora McCool, I am 62 years old and a mother of five children and 8 grandchildren and another, a boy, arriving in September.
Being a foster carer is one of the most rewarding things you can ever do. I have been looking after young people for 29 years.
During this time I have fostered 205 children. The children keep me young.
I know all the latest songs and love singing along when we’re on the car going for our activity days.
I have learned a lot about looking after children over the years, both through experience and the support from Hammersmith & Fulham Council and fellow foster carers who guide each other through any challenges.
I don’t think you can ever have enough experience!
Although the foster placements are temporary, they are all rewarding.
It is amazing when children are rehabilitated back home it is worth all the hard work that goes into being a foster carer.
Another favourite of mine is when the children pop back and see me. I have an open door policy and the children keep in contact and visit when they like. This brings both the children and me a lot of pleasure, we have a lot of laughs about the past."
“I have been fostering for more than 20 years and I really love looking after children. It really makes me feel I am giving something to society. I began fostering after I had been caring for my siblings. I thought fostering would be a good way to carry on caring for children after they left. The support is always there for us. The training is excellent. I learned such a lot from the 'Skills-to-Foster' course."