Karen#8217;s agency Five Rivers is calling for more people in the local area to consider a career as a foster carer to help tackle a nationwide shortage which includes a current shortfall of 480 carers across the South West of England and more than 7,000 throughout the UK, according to figures from the Fostering Network.
Karen, 76, currently fosters brother and sister George, 9, and Grace, 10, and is a registered carer for Jacob, 22. Following in her footsteps, Karen#8217;s daughter Lily, 52, is also a registered foster carer. The names in this article have been changed to protect the identity of the foster children and their carers.
In fact, mother-of-three Karen, who is originally from North London, attests her longevity as a foster carer down to the support she receives from her daughter. She said: #8220;Lily and I work as a team and we know each other inside out. If things get too much for me, I know I have Lily by my side to take over for a while.#8221;
When her three children were growing up, Karen worked as a dinner lady to fit around their school life comfortably. As a result, she would often look after other children during the summer holidays when their parents were at work. It was during this time that fellow parents suggested Karen would make a good foster carer.
Karen said: #8220;At first I didn#8217;t think I would be able to become a foster carer because I was a single parent, but after some research I realised that actually that wasn#8217;t the case at all. I#8217;ve watched my grandchildren grow up around foster children and I believe being around other children is really beneficial for every child as they grow up.#8221;