Covid-19 Crisis Impact

7 Ways Covid-19 Crisis Impacts Foster Kids/Care – They’re All Bad

By Brian Mavis, President, America’s Kids Belong, & Elle Flowers, AKB Social Media Manager

Covid-19 most negatively impacts the vulnerable. The virus hurts our elderly loved ones the most. Ironically, the quarantine hurts our young and overlooked ones the most. Specifically, it impacts kids in at-risk families and in foster care. Here is what to expect:

  1. More Kids Will Experience Abuse and Neglect (And More Kids May Enter Foster Care)

A former foster youth posted this to her Instagram: “Pray for the children who are now stuck at home with abusive parents – the kids whose only safe place was school. Very heavy on my heart because it hits so close to home.” The unexpected stress and time at home increases risk of harm for already at-risk families. What is unclear is if more kids will enter care or not; that’s because reporting may decrease since the child won’t be seen in community.

  1. More Shelters Will Close

You may not be aware of this, but there are thousands of shelters throughout the country housing kids in foster care. This notice went out today to foster parents in a Colorado county: “We still have placements coming in, and it looks like adolescent shelters will need to close. Please let me know if you are open to receiving any of those kids.” It’s one thing to have a shelter close because there are more than enough families to care for the kids. It’s another thing for a shelter to close, but there aren’t families to care for the kids. That leads to the next problem.

  1. Fewer Current Foster Parents Will Take New/More Kids

Foster parenting can be stressful, but the kids’ school and daycare helps relieve some of that stress. These things help create capacity for current foster families. But now with kids having to stay home from school and daycare, it’ll make it harder for foster families to take in any new kids who need a safe family.

  1. Fewer People Will Become Foster Parents

While the Covid-19 quarantine is in effect, new foster parents will be in decline. There are two key reasons for this: 1) Churches are the best places to recruit new families, but they won’t be gathering for possibly two months. 2). Child Services and Child Placement Agencies are canceling their training and certifications of new families. Every county needs more foster families, and this will deepen the need.

  1. Fewer Services for Kids

Because of neglect and abuse (both in the womb and after), kids often require more help in order to heal, grow, and track with their peers. We already know foster families who have been told their kids will not receive their regular services of counseling, Physical Therapy, Social Emotional Therapy, and Occupational Therapy.

  1. More Fear, Insecurity, Triggers, and Trauma for Kids

Kids in foster care thrive on consistency, routine, reliability. Many of these kids’ brains are hypervigilant and set on “survival mode.” This new uncertainty may cause their brains and bodies to go into fight, flight, freeze, faint mode, protecting themselves from perceived or real threats and dangers.

  1. Fewer Visits with Bio Families

Reunification is the first goal of most cases in the foster care system. One of the most important practices on the path to reunification are the visits between the children and their parents. Sometimes those visits are in jails, county buildings, churches or other designated safe places. Unfortunately, we have already heard of agencies and counties where visitations with bio families are being canceled.

So, what can be done? The foster care system was in a crisis before this moment; the America’s Kids Belong staff has always been working to end this crisis, so this isn’t new to us. Follow us on Social Media and in our email. Join us as we empower you to tackle this new dynamic so kids in foster care feel less of the impact.

For ideas on serving Foster Care NOW, see our AKB COVID-19 Response Page.

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