Karen’s story

Archived: Posted May 11, 2016

“We have laughed together and cried together, she has grown into a lovely young woman”

Foster carer Karen Plumb from CoventryKaren Plumb is a single foster carer with Foster Care Associates (FCA) living in Coventry. Specialising in caring for young mums who need support and guidance to look after their own babies, she talks openly about her experiences as a foster carer.

“I had my birth daughters when I was very young, and was fortunate enough to have the support of a great family, but I always knew that there were a lot of young mums out there in not such a good position. I wanted to help, and fostering was a way I thought I could do this, but decided to wait until my own daughters had grown up and left home as we only lived in a two bedroom house. After what seemed like a long time rattling around the house by myself I decided to make the initial enquiry about becoming a foster carer – a decision that has changed my life forever for the better.

“A friend of mine suggested I talk to Foster Care Associates (FCA) as she knew someone who already fostered with them. After an initial meeting with a social worker the assessment process soon began. No stone is left unturned, and you have to be prepared to be open about your past which I actually found quite cathartic, bringing back memories of my family and how lucky I was to have had the parents I did. We weren’t the richest family monetary wise but we were the richest with love and stability.

“Becoming a foster carer isn’t a decision you should make alone. My dad was still alive when I started the process of becoming a foster care. I spoke at length with him, my daughters and my sisters about the pros and cons. My dad was very supportive, as were the rest of my family, although I think my sisters had some reservations in the beginning as I’m a single carer and they were worried about my safety. Their fears I’m pleased to say were unfounded and one of them has since actually become a foster carer herself!

“I specialise in parent and child placements caring for young parents, often mums, who may be struggling to care for their own child and require extra support. These placements allow the parent to develop their parenting skills in a stable and caring environment whilst in the guidance of their foster carer, offering the child and the parent the best opportunity to remain together. I’m caring for my ninth mum and baby at the moment!

“When you have someone come into your home for the first time, they are frightened, confused, upset and sometimes angry. As a foster carer I have to find a way of getting through to them. I usually buy them a little present to welcome them into my home, usually an outfit for the baby or a toy. For mum I will get her some chocolates and a bunch of flowers and leave them in their room.

“Sometimes I get a bit embarrassed by people’s reactions when they find out I’m a foster carer. People say I must be a really special person to foster but I just tell them that I love the work I do, I just want to make a difference to the lives of these girls. Of course being a foster carer has ups and downs but it’s so rewarding to see the confidence of these mums in my care grow week by week, and to be able to finally go home with their babies. Of the nine mums and babies I have looked after I am still in touch with six of them. I even have two of them come to me every Christmas as they have no families to go to.

“There are so many moments that let me know I have made a difference to these girls. I once had a very stroppy, angry young mum come to me with her baby. She was very opinionated, and didn’t want to take any advice – I really didn’t think that when she left me she would have stayed in touch with me. She now calls me mum and her children call me nannie Karen. We talk every week, she texts me and messages me on Facebook. She has her own mum but says I am more of a mother to her than her own mum is. We have laughed together and cried together, she has grown into a lovely young woman.

“FCA offers all the support and training I need but most of all have the most wonderful foster carers who support each other when things get tough. They really are like an extended family to me.

“We have monthly support groups, and monthly supervision with our supervising social worker who is also on the end of a phone. At the weekend, holidays and evenings we have an out of hours service so if needed we have someone 24 hours of the day, 365 days a year. FCA offers great training courses too, I think in my first year I did in excess of 30 different courses – my advice to new carers would be to go to a support group, and do as much training as you can, as this will give you the tools you need to foster.

“My advice to those considering fostering is just go for it, make that first enquiry! It’s one of the best things I have done in my life!”

How can we help?

Ready to start fostering a child or young person? Or just want a bit more information to help you decide whether fostering is for you? All you need to do is contact us.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we're here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in your area.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we,re here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in you area
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Share This With A Friend