Meet our Foster Carer
Foster Carer Q&A: Karen from West Yorkshire
Safehouses stalwart, Karen, has fostered 27 children since becoming a foster carer with us in 2012. Here, Karen answers some questions about what it’s like to foster some of the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people.
What did you do prior to foster care?
I worked in a primary school with children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
What made you first think about fostering?
It was actually something I had always thought about. The woman I call ‘mum’ isn’t my biological mum but she is my inspiration. I think my own experiences make me very empathetic which is a really important trait in a foster carer. I’ve been fostering for so long now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Tell us a little bit about the children you have fostered since joining us in 2012 and do you have any children in your care currently?
I’ve had a really varied fostering journey so far and have been lucky enough to support 27 children over the last nine years. I have looked after eight parent and child placements all of which brought their own challenges including a non-English speaking parent and a parent with Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve fostered three sibling groups – all of which were primary and preschool ages. I also cared for a 12-week-old baby for almost two years before they were successfully placed with an adoptive family. A teenager I cared for progressed onto a Staying Put arrangement and an eight-year-old has progressed to a long-term placement and he has been with our family for almost four years now. In addition to him, I’m also currently caring for a sibling group of three aged nine, six, and five.
What is the best thing about being a foster carer?
It truly is the most rewarding career; watching a child grow, laugh and learn. A standout moment for me is when we went to pick up our foster son from school, armed with red love heart balloons, to let him know that he would be staying with us long-term. Seeing him jumping up and down and fist-pumping the air before bursting into happy tears will be a memory I shall treasure forever. He had me and half the teachers in tears, it was a very special moment.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a foster carer?
To absolutely just go for it! It’s the best decision I made and the impact it’s had on me has been incredible. Not just me, my whole family. We’re a fostering unit, a team, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
What skills have you gained since becoming a foster carer?
So many! My communication skills have improved tenfold and I’m much more confident talking with children and young people however old they are and whatever their background. Through specialist training, I’ve learned how to understand childhood trauma and how it affects the developing brain. As part of this, I’ve developed therapeutic parenting skills such as understanding attachment issues and learning how to make a child feel safe by healing previous trauma and helping them feel safe and loved in your care. From a personal point of view, I’ve learned you can enjoy the playground in the rain! And that it’s always important to smile in the face of adversity.
What three words would you use to describe your experiences of being a foster carer?
Rewarding, humbling, and all-encompassing.
And finally, what’s your go-to activity for a rainy day?
The rain never stops us! I always have waterproofs, salopettes, and wellies at the ready for all of my children so we can still enjoy the great outdoors whether it’s dog walks, heading to the playground or watching a rugby game. If it’s really chilly, we all love to visit the cinema, go ten-pin bowling or play a round of indoor crazy golf.
For information on how to become a foster carer with Safehouses Fostering, call 0345 266 7683 or email [email protected]