4 March, 2015

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Foster carer Karen, with daughter Anna-Rose, has looked after 13 children.

"They keep you on your toes", was Karen's modest but genuine reply to a question on the difficulties of foster caring.

For the past two and a half years, the Chester Hill resident has been caring for young children for Barnardos Australia.

Barnardos finds safe homes for abused children and young people, and works with families to prevent abuse.

Karen, 50, has been a carer with Barnardos since October 2012 and has had 13 children in her care across eight different placements - including three siblings all under five in one stint. She currently has a two-month old baby boy in her care.
Karen lives with her partner, Craig, and her daughter Anna-Rose, 18, who has just started at TAFE and also helps out with the children in care.

Karen said her love of children prompted her to become a foster carer, to take children, who had been either neglected or abused, into her care for short periods of time.

"When you first receive the children, they're so scared," Karen said.

"They're taken from people they know, and placed with people they don't know. It takes a bit to get their trust. When you do win their trust and see them take-off, see them happy and healthy, see them blossom and develop their own personalties, that's the rewarding part."

Karen said she encouraged people to become a carer for Barnardos.

"There's a genuine need out there," she said.

"Anyone who has room in their heart, and house, should give it a go," she said.
"It takes a bit of patience, but the rewards are there."

For further information on becoming a Barnardos foster carer, call 1800 663 441.

(This article was first published in Bankstown Torch on 4 March, 2015.)