Foster mums give the greatest gift
CELEBRATING Mother’s Day is extra special for Karen who is among more than 50 women in our region who fulfill the vital role of foster mum.
Karen and her husband Cameron have stepped up to play a part in the lives of many young people since signing up as foster carers with BCYF five years ago.
“Last year, we had a brother and sister, the girl did a lovely card, saying ‘Happy Foster Mum’s Day’,” Karen remembers.
“That’s really sweet and I’ve still got that. She did it for Father’s Day as well.
“It makes you feel useful and important, you feel like you’re doing good.”
The Bellarine couple has cared for children as young as two and as old as 17 but they mostly look after children between the ages of eight and 12.
Karen says after her three biological children grew up and left home, she felt she still had more to give and was fuelled by a desire to give back.
“I wanted a bigger challenge,” she says.
“Work was becoming a bit boring, my own children had grown up and they were fairly self-sufficient and I was missing young people’s company in the home.
“I also wanted to give back. I like young people and I really like helping young people.”
The couple enjoys providing fun activities for those in their care, including days at Adventure Park and bushwalks at the You Yangs.
“You get to see the world through a young person’s eyes,” Karen says.
“You also can keep in touch with the young generation when you normally wouldn’t.”
Karen and Cameron have done a wide variety of foster care, including long term care, and their focus at the moment is on emergency care and respite.
Emergency care provides accommodation for children and young people in an emergency and can often be required at a moment’s notice, at any time of the day.
Respite care provides support for a child or young person’s parents, guardians or regular foster carers by enabling them to have a break, and it helps builds the circle of caring people around a child.
“The best thing about emergency care and respite is the sheer difference in kids,” Karen explains.
“The variety of circumstances, the variety of reactions, these are the challenges.
“You get to know the kids and get them to trust you.”
This Mother’s Day, BCYF is acknowledging people just like Karen who have been a mother or a mother figure, in someone else’s life, including its group of dedicated foster carers.
The organisation is in urgent need of more foster carers in the Barwon region.
Karen encourages anyone who was thinking about foster care to definitely give it a go.
“It is an important role, you are needed,” she says. “You’re not doing it alone.
“The team at BCYF are there to support you, and talking to other carers really helps.
“It helps you realise when it’s really challenging, knowing it happens to others and it’s not just you.
“In years to come, the kids will look back at what you did and that’s important to them.”