It won’t be pretty, said George Tyndall, senior vice president of operations for Bethany Christian Services, a global foster care agency.
“Prior to COVID-19, no communities in the country could say they had more than enough foster families,” Tyndall said. “Just a few weeks ago, communities were scrambling to find enough foster families because of the opioid epidemic. When you layer COVID-19 on top of that, the crisis becomes just that much more challenging.”
Courts are shutting down, leaving many children and their parents in limbo. Parents either can’t prove they are ready to get their children back or fight to keep them. Family visits are being suspended indefinitely. Both domestic violence and child abuse increase during disasters. Fewer foster parents, typically the elderly who are more at risk of COVID-19, are willing to take in kids for fear they have the virus.
All of these additional struggles on top of an already overwhelmed foster care system is adding more anxiety, stress, isolation, and fear about how COVID-19 will affect the foster system now and in the long run.
As the return to normal ( or the new normal) begins, teachers, foster care workers, health professionals, and social workers are all sadly anticipating a surge of reports, referrals, and cases in the foster care system due to children returning back to schools, daycare, therapists, doctors, etc.
We need to be ready to step up even more so than before - these kids need us more than ever, and if we aren't there for them, who will be?