As Society begins to Recover from COVID, Foster Children are Left Behind
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. As we begin to regain a sense of normalcy, foster children are being overlooked and left behind.
The onset of the Coronavirus in the United States brought the foster care system to a standstill. Consequently, courts across the nation paused or completely stopped hearing cases. Meaning that children in care could not be reunified with their biological parents. According to data from the Associated Press, thousands of families across 34 states in which data was collected have been stuck in the standstill court system.
The pause of court hearings due to COVID left many foster children (and foster parents) in limbo, temporary placements have turned into a year-long living situation. This places extra pressure on faster parents as they juggle other stressors such as potential unemployment, an unexpected need for childcare, and coaching the children in their homes through virtual schooling.
Unique to Foster Parents
Just like other parents at the onset of the pandemic, foster parents had to make decisions about how to best serve their family under new conditions such as working from home, losing a job, working a frontline position, and virtual school. These decisions are more complicated for foster parents because foster children can only be left in the care of other foster-certified adults.
Children having to stay in long-term placements is just half of the issue. Some foster children have nowhere to go. While some foster families decreased the number of children they care for, others took a break from fostering altogether. Meaning- there are not enough homes for the children that need them.
So what happens to these children without anywhere to go?
Well, it depends on the state, some end up in juvenile correction facilities, even though they have no criminal record. Others sleep on cots in Child Protective Services (CPS) offices. Neither of these options is ideal. It’s painful to picture children housed under these circumstances, but a bed is a bed and sadly they have nowhere else to go.
Nowhere to Go
What is happening to the children who age out of the foster care system during the pandemic is troubling. For 18-year-olds who’ve aged out and have nowhere to go, their only option may be sleeping on the streets. 1 in 4 foster youth becomes homeless the day they age out.
How You Can Help
As we continue to recover from COVID and we begin to see our families again and take off our masks, the circumstances for foster children are not getting much better. So you can make a difference by visiting our site to identify how you can help.