Suze Trappitt has always had a passion for caring for children and families, especially those that need a bit of extra help. Suze has spent over 16 years working in childcare centres and family day care, and with three biological children of her own, along with three long-term foster children, she has plenty of experience in childrearing. Currently running a business matching babysitters to families, Suze’s training in childcare and community services has given her invaluable skills in nurturing the babies, children and young adults with different needs who come into her care. Suze shares her story with us as part of WA Foster Carers Week.
What first interested you in becoming a foster carer?
I was running family day care and a couple of young girls I was caring for were placed into care after their mother had a drug overdose, which she thankfully survived. The children continued to attend and thrived with the new carer. They had their teeth fixed, their hair cut and were provided with clean clothes. It was then I put my hand up to foster.
How long have you been caring for?
About 17 years now.
How many children have you looked after in this time?
I think I have had over 30 children through now. It is not about the number of children however, it is the length of time and interactions with them. I have some for a few days, I have had some for years – 15, 12 and 8 years so far are my longest – and I have kept in touch with some and had them back occasionally for respite.
You must really love children to work with them all day then come home to a house full of kids. Have you always had a strong caring instinct?
I have always had an affinity with babies and as a child my ambition was to be a mum. I have definitely achieved that, many times over.
What impact has running your business had on your caring experience?
I chose Cherished Cherubs Babysitting over running full-time day care for the lifestyle of my family. My business is coordinating babysitters with families, and it allows me to be able to continue to foster – win-win. The office ladies love it when there is a baby at work, and I can adjust my work to be around for the children after school and for appointments. It also means I can relate to the parents that call up wanting babysitters, those that are juggling kids and work and life in general.
What’s the most rewarding part about being a foster carer? What’s the hardest?
Rewarding parts are many! I love the cuteness of babies, I love the expressions of toddlers and I love seeing the progress of older ones. The hardest part is having to handle emotions and difficult situations.
Has your life changed much as a result of your caring?
No, I have always had kids in my life – it is our normal. My youngest was two when I started fostering, so it’s been a natural extension.
Has it been difficult juggling the demands of your biological children with those of your foster children or have they all generally got along well?
I have three biological children. We have always had extras in our house, whether it be day care, friends, family or babysitting in general, so they don’t know what a ‘traditional’ family is. As the children become older I do discuss [with them] taking on various other children as it definitely affects them.
Have you always focused on long-term placements?
I have always done long, short and emergency placements. I still have three long-term foster children at home, so now, although I prefer to specialise in the newborns before they move to their long-term placements, I am also willing to take on some short-term placements.
Do you have a network you can turn to for advice?
I find fostering services offer fantastic training sessions which I still attend at times. I have family also working in the industry so we can debrief and bounce things off each other.
Do you have any advice to people thinking about becoming foster carers?
It is extremely rewarding; after 17 years I am still putting my hand up. It’s important to recognise it is so not like raising your own children though. Even if they come in as babies, there are genetics and experiences that will affect their behaviours going forward. You will need training and support, you may need to adjust your thinking, and you will have to work in with their family and with the Department. There are some amazing carers out there, and we can always do with more.
The Department of Communities is always looking for suitable foster carers from metropolitan, regional, rural and remote locations across Western Australia. To find out more about becoming a foster carer, please visit: https://childprotectioncareers.wa.gov.au/foster-carer-recruitment