This story was originally produced by WSYX/WTTE ABC6 in Columbus.
As the world continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19, a population that could be forgotten in this pandemic is foster children.
More than 16,000 children are currently in Ohio’s foster care system, and there are growing concerns that many may be vulnerable during this pandemic.
Concerns are not only for their physical health and safety but for their mental health too. The stay-at-home order is forcing children to be stuck inside and be separated from their communities.
Rita Soronen is the President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The non-profit works to increase adoptions from the foster care system, moving children out of foster care and into loving homes with an adoptive family.
“What’s inherent in this work is face-to-face relationship building contact,” says Soronen. “And when that can’t happen, then we’re on delay for these children.”
Soronen says she’s seeing the impacts of COVID-19 putting a hold on connecting children with families.
“A child that was ready to be placed with a family, all the background work had been done, that’s now on delay. And that can trigger a further sense of abandonment, trauma, uncertainty.”
Without face-to-face contact in this age of social distancing, foster care workers are now getting creative to stay connected.
Mentors and recruiters are using technology like Zoom and FaceTime to keep up the interactions and keep foster kids from blaming themselves.
For children who’ve been abused, neglected and abandoned, dealing with layers of past trauma puts them at elevated risk for illness.
As COVID-19 forces most things to be put on hold, the need for foster homes is still critical. Agencies are still actively looking for people to open their hearts and homes to children in the community.
“We don’t want people to stop thinking about fostering or adopting,” says Soronen. “This is a good time to step back and learn more about the issue, and learn how to step in and become a part of this process for children.”
No child should face the COVID-19 crisis or any other without the love and support of a permanent family. Give now to help find adoptive homes for children waiting in foster care.