Fostering friends, Susan and Susan
“Don’t think you can’t do it – go for it and you certainly will be fulfilled!” – that’s the advice to those considering fostering, from long time fostering friends Susan Davies and Susan Chalmers.
Having thought about fostering at different times, they both reached the same decision in 2012, at which point, as they say, they ‘took the plunge and have never looked back’.
By that point the friends had, for economic reasons, bought a home together and it all just came together. The final catalyst was when Susan D, who was working as a primary school teacher, had a chat with the school caretaker who happened to be a foster carer with his wife and who offered encouragement.
The duo, who are now Ambassadors for the Trust, have so far fostered nine children, provided respite on a monthly basis over a year for one child and offered ad-hoc weekend respite for others.
“We currently have four children, comprised of two sibling groups; and have a special guardianship order for another child, who was our first placement who came to us as an emergency,” said Susan C.
Among the challenges faced, the two Susans cite the responsibility of caring for children who may have behavioural, medical, or family complications; the balancing act between school attendance, official meetings about the children’s care and family time meetings.
“Another challenge is there is not always a known clear pathway for the children – for instance there may be twin tracking for either return to parents or adoption, which means we are not always sure how long we will have them, or feel we can prepare them for their next step,“ said Susan D.
But, they say, the rewards outweigh the challenges – rewards like seeing the children take their first steps, speak their first words, learn to ride a bike or to swim, or overcome confidence issues.
“We love to watch them grow and to see their individual personalities come to the fore – and we love the fact that the children we have fostered have all been given security, safety, love and care within a family. They are completely integrated into our extended family, who have embraced them as if they were our own children,” said Susan C.
As for fostering through the Doncaster Children’s Service Trust, Susan D says: “We have all the support we need, with excellent, experienced, social workers and a friendly and open fostering team. There is also a good network among Trust foster carers; and we know exactly where to turn if we need support in any way.”
As Trust Ambassadors, the friends get involved in recruitment events; first phone-calls and visits to prospective carers; make themselves available to support other carers; and they are currently preparing some Mentoring and Reflective Practice training to be delivered to carers.
“We haven’t looked back since making the decision to become foster carers and we are excited about continuing to help as many children as we can,” said Susan C.