Family link fostering - Sue

Sue Hurst lives in Leamington, is single and is a Family Link Foster Carer. Sue has cared for 6 children and young people over the past 14 years. Sue often stays in touch with the young people she has cared for and their families and this is very much a positive aspect of her role.

Sue became a Family Link Foster Carer because she wanted to help children alongside her full time job in a school. Family Link enables her to provide respite care to children with disabilities for one or two weekends a month, depending on the needs of the children she cares for.

The challenges of being a Family Link Foster Carer are often very different to those of mainstream carers as she provides respite care. Sue works with children with learning disabilities and challenging behaviours and this work experience has helped her in her role as a Family Link Carer. Sue has had placements where parents have struggled to let go of their child for one weekend a month despite both them and the child needing the respite break. This was often difficult in the beginning but once relationships and a routine were established this got easier.

The real rewards of the role for Sue are seeing the children become settled and comfortable in her home, and seeing the children progress over the years whilst in her care. Sue also enjoys giving the young people new opportunities to do different things when they come to stay with her e.g. swimming as this normally involves one to one care. Sue describes the positives she can see in children’s families when they get a short respite break; such as the relief in parents’ voices as they leave her home after dropping a child off. Parents know children will be safe with Sue and they can relax for a short time or give their other children more attention.

Sue receives excellent support from her Family Link Social Worker and they are there to support Sue throughout the placements and provide her with any equipment needed. There is also lots of training available through the Fostering Services and if further training is needed for a particularly child then this is available too i.e. for a specific medical condition.

Sue feels that Family Link Foster Carers need to be patient, willing to do activities and help children, have an interest in disability even if they don’t have any experience, able to deal with a challenges, able to build relationships with children and their families often at times of stress and able to consider the medical needs of children and young people and whether they can meet them.
Sue would recommend the role of Family Link Foster Carer and says “You will get plenty of support and advice, it’s a really worthwhile thing to do with so many rewards and it can work alongside a busy life where mainstream fostering may not.”