What’s up in the foster care space Post Pandemic?
What’s up in the foster care space post-pandemic?
It’s the question we get asked the most these days. What type of impact did the last year have on the kids in foster care and the foster care system?
The short answer - You’re needed. Now more than ever.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
A perfect storm. Nationally, rates of substance use and mental health concerns have gone up due to hard realities of the pandemic, lock down, loss of jobs, illness, and school closures. During the last year, with families isolated and children not in school or around safe eyes as often, the abuse and neglect went unseen. As the world opens up, more calls are being made to the child abuse hotlines, and a higher number of kids are entering foster care.
At the same time, there are a lot of weary foster parents. It’s been a hard year. Foster parents became teachers, full-time care providers, and counselors to children who were already struggling and impacted significantly by trauma and loss. Like parenting in general, fostering is no walk in the park in a “normal year.” Add a pandemic, and it was challenging in ways no one saw coming.
Community support systems that typically wrapped around foster families and provided respite care were much less available due to isolation and quarantines.
“I’m tired. The need is so great. I am keeping my home open because I get so many placement calls per day. I can’t imagine the weight on the social workers trying their best to find homes and struggling because of the lack of homes that will take a teen.” – Davidson County foster mom
Large increase in kids entering foster care
Foster homes taking a break/closing
Less families signing up to do something hard right now
-Social workers struggling to find placements for children, especially teenagers
-Kids being placed far from their own homes of origin/school/friends
-Additional unnecessary trauma to children
5 Ways YOU Can Help:
CONSIDER FOSTERING. You don’t have to commit on day one. Just take the next step and get more information. Attend a virtual Q&A panel to hear from other foster families, ask questions, and learn more. Also, find the schedule for Information Meetings with the state and private providers at https://www.tnkidsbelong.org/fostering
2. Do you know a current foster family? REACH OUT. Bring them a meal without asking if they need one. Offer to babysit and provide a date night, nap, or shower. Chances are they are pretty burned out and aren’t asking for the help they need.
3. Help educate your community on the need. SEND THIS to someone whom you think might be interested in opening their heart and home to a child for a season.
4. SHARE A VIDEO of a Tennessee child in need of a forever family. SO many times we hear that a family was found because parents saw the child’s video on social media!
View waiting children here: https://americaskidsbelong.org/videos-tn/
5. DONATE. There are many groups doing great work to serve this vulnerable population. Consider donating monthly to Tennessee Kids Belong to help continue this important work:
DONATE HERE: https://tennesseekidsbelong.givingfuel.com/tkb
“It is a pet-peeve of mine when people tell foster parents that they need to take care of themselves, when what they really need is wrap around support. Self-care is not sustainable without community.” – Janet K., Kinship/Adoptive mom