SALT LAKE CITY -- A woman in Salt Lake City has been a foster parent for 187 children over the course of nearly 40 years, and she said it is something that is rewarding, important, sometimes fun, sometimes painful--and never easy.
Eva Mae Sexton said being a foster parent is rewarding but tough.
“It is hard,” she said. “It is hard for a foster parent. It’s not easy to be a foster parent, and anybody that goes into it that thinks it is easy, they are definitely wrong. But, it is so rewarding.”
Sexton began taking in foster children during the ‘70s, and she housed up to five kids at a time for a total of 178 children over those years. She recently retired from housing foster children, but at 93-years-old she said she still hears from many children through visits and correspondence.
She read one such letter from a child she once housed: “I thank you for helping me be what I am today and seeing where else I had the potential to be. You are a wonderful woman.”
Sexton said when she started she was generally housing school-aged kids, but she said by her last years of providing care she had transitioned to exclusively helping teenagers. CBTS Inc. in Salt Lake City is an organization that helps place teenagers with foster families, and officials with the group said it is often more difficult to place teens.
Brittany Coleman, an assistant clinic director at CBTS Inc., said they are in need of parents willing to take in teenagers.
“We really need some people to open up their hearts and help these kids... these teenagers need help, and they need someone to love them and help them,” she said.
CBTS also offers free clinical services, like individual and family therapy, and even continuing education for those who work as foster parents.
Sexton said she thinks the key to being a good foster parent is listening to children in order to be attentive to their needs.
“They should be, have a lot of empathy for the children, and today it takes a whole lot of people to raise a child,” she said.
Those who wish to be foster parents must be at least 21 years old, must pass a criminal background check and must undergo a home inspection.
For More information about CBTS Inc. and their services, click here.