Karen fosters teenage girls

Karen and her husband have been fostering for 12 years and in that time have cared for over 70 children of varying ages and backgrounds.

‘We were originally thinking of adoption, then decided to try fostering first and never stopped,” explains Karen. “We enjoy it so much, especially the variety – every child is different with different problems and needs.”

Karen and her husband are currently fostering three teenage girls, including 17-year-old Amy, who has been living with them for three and a half years.

“Amy is an absolute star and has come full circle since being placed with us. She’s gone from having very little confidence and not being able to make eye contact to the accomplished girl she is now.”

Amy is currently studying for her A levels in Sociology, Psychology and Law and hopes to be accepted into Cambridge University to study law.  

As well as contributing her thoughts and opinions on fostering to national publications such as The Guardian and The Big issue, Amy also won a national poetry competition, the Coram Voice Award, for a poem she wrote about foster mum Karen.

“Karen has given me love, no matter what,” says Amy. “We need more foster carers and we really need to trust and empower them to care for children and young people.”

As part of York’s Children in Care Council, Amy also helped to create a website (www.aspiretomore.wordpress.com) alongside other care-experienced young people to change the stigma surrounding children in care and promote inspiring futures for them. The website was entered into a national award and won best youth campaign on social issues, which was presented by MP’s in the Houses of Parliament.

And the most rewarding thing about being a foster parent?

“Seeing the difference you can make in a child’s life,” replies Karen. “They come to you frightened, placed in a complete stranger’s home, but as time goes on and they realise they’re in a safe and secure environment, they open up and the difference is incredible. I forget I’m a carer and they’re a foster child – It makes my heart full.”