When Rhondda mum Susanne Smith discovered children from a local family were going into care, she decided to become a foster carer herself.
“I’ve worked as a childminder since 1995 and I started fostering because a family I knew went into care. I was their childminder at the time and they didn’t have a placement,” said Susanne of Ton Pentre.
“I had been thinking about it for a while. I thought I would like to foster a girl and help them get through their teenage years and maybe try to get them into university and a good job.”
Susanne, who has one grown-up son, fostered the three children - two boys and a girl - from the same family. Two of the children remain with her and one has gone on to university.
“When children are taken away from their parents, it is much better if they have got somebody from their own family in the foster house,” she explained.
Susanne, who continues to work as a childminder from home alongside her role as a foster carer, added: “I would recommend fostering to others. We had four teenagers in the house together and they were fabulous years. I like having happy children at home. It’s not all lovely and there are difficult times when children don’t get on, but it is definitely worth it for everybody involved.”
With more than 600 children in various types of care throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf, the Council’s Foster Care team is appealing for caring people like Susanne to come forward and open their hearts and homes to others.
Providing high-quality family placements for children and young people whose own families are unable to care for them is a top priority for Children’s Services. Residents of all ages and backgrounds who may never have been parents themselves are welcome to come forward.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Services Cllr Annette Davies, said: "Fostering is a demanding but hugely fulfilling career, and we welcome people from all kinds of backgrounds who may not have had experience of being a parent or working with children like Susanne, but who share the same commitment to ensuring children’s potential is fulfilled.”
There are a variety of foster care schemes available, including short term, long term and respite placements, and the Foster Care Service will work closely with foster carers to find a scheme suitable to both them and the young person they care for.
The Council’s policy is that children and young people should remain with their parents where it is safe, and they proactively support families wherever possible. But when this isn’t possible, the Council aims to provide placements that can give a child stability and a sense of security.
All carers receive professional support and training including first aid, child protection and fire safety, with the chance to secure formal qualifications in childcare. Foster carers receive good fees and allowances, and free leisure access for all the family.
Potential foster carers do not need to own their own property, but will need a spare bedroom. Many people who become foster carers do not have children of their own. They will also have access to support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a social worker allocated to both the carer and child alike.
Find out more about the supports, benefits and services on offer for Foster Carers on the dedicated Foster Care Pages
To find out more about how to become a foster carer, please contact the Council’s Fostering Team on 0800 085 26 35.