Foster families adopt virtual services during COVID-19 pandemic – Scot Scoop News


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As many experience instability, organizations, host families and volunteers come together to offer support

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 6% of young Americans will end up in foster care before the age of 18.

That’s more than 400,000 children adjusting to a new home, a new school and a new family: a process that was recently stifled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout 2020, county health ordinances enacted “stay at home” rules, which could keep children in unsafe environments. Although a Forensic Science International Report found that reports of child abuse cases have declined since the early stages of COVID-19, experts agree the problem has not gone away.

Judy Holmes, Director of Family Services for the non-profit organization Help a child, recognizes that current circumstances may mask dangerous situations.

“There aren’t many children coming into foster care right now because there are no eyes on the kids, no teachers, parents or friends to call. CPS (Child Protective Services), ”said Holmes. “We believe that child abuse and neglect takes place behind closed doors, where no one can see it.”

Increase in job losses and violence during COVID-19 puts young people at risk; leads to entries into the foster care system. (Chesney Evert)

In addition to an increasing death toll, COVID-19 has brought economic hardship, stress and fear to some of the most vulnerable communities. This raises concerns about the number of children living in a safe family environment.

This organization and others hope to change that.

For the past 24 years, Holmes has been part of Help One Child in a volunteer and administrative capacity, working to educate foster parents and provide support to families at risk.

Using more than 3,500 local religious communities, Help One Child organizes events and training in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their programs, their mission remains the same.

“Now we do virtually everything,” said Holmes. “We have around six foster parent, foster parent and adoptive support groups dedicated to topics such as attachment and trauma, as well as quarterly foster parent training, which now takes place on Zoom. .[…] We work with families at risk through Care portal, an online platform.

If a family is unable to access resources, CarePortal allows their case manager to contact churches that are part of the program directly. Members of these churches then help meet the needs of the family, in the hope that it will provide security and stability.

Help One Child and its programs could not exist without community members interested in helping others. Host families, social workers and volunteers join forces to make the organization work.

Nicole Davis *, a San Mateo County resident and foster parent, knew she wanted to open up her home to others from a young age.

“I always felt like I could love someone who was not in my genetic makeup as much as I love my biological family,” Davis said. “Relationships can be as meaningful as you make them. ”

For Davis and his family, COVID-19 and the looming flu season risks were not obstacles to their involvement in foster care; however, she acknowledges that it has changed the way the system works.

“We’re not at the placement stage where we’re filling out paperwork or meeting a child, but our social worker, who we love and is a great support system, is now meeting us through Zoom,” Davis said. “It was difficult because when problems arise, and they do, you don’t talk to someone face to face.”

Despite this challenge, Davis is a firm believer in the foster care system and uses it to shape his view of the world.

“I like to think that the person I don’t know sitting next to me is someone I could be just as intimately connected with as my biological child,” Davis said. “It makes the world a smaller and safer place. […] If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, call now. There is never a better time.

* This name has been changed to protect the anonymity of the source, in accordance with anonymous procurement policy.

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Perry A. Thomasson