The Trump administration has stepped up deportations of minors detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents along the U.S.-Mexican border amid the coronavirus outbreak and in some cases has reportedly sent minors back to their home countries without notifying parents. One family of a Honduran child who was deported in recent weeks told the Times that their son arrived in the country without any notice, and was forced to borrow a cellphone after arriving to contact a family member.
…Foster children have enormous challenges even in the best of times. The coronavirus pandemic threatens them with even greater turmoil, isolating them from adult supervisors and friends and making it harder to move on to new lives — either with biological or adoptive families, or as newly independent adults….
(INDIANAPOLIS) – Foster Success has sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb asking him to take immediate steps to help Hoosier foster youth during the pandemic. The letter urges the Governor to take additional action to meet the unique health and safety needs of teens and young adults in Indiana’s child welfare system and those who have recently transitioned out of care.
OMAHA, Neb. — The child welfare system in the Eastern Service Area of Nebraska, that’s Sarpy and Douglas counties, went through a power change in the last year. New contractor, Saint Francis Ministries, officially took over in January. Now they’re faced with the challenge of helping vulnerable children during a pandemic.
Saint Francis oversees about 1,600 children in the Eastern Service Area.
“Dealing with the sensitive topics of child welfare, children are having a really difficult time understanding why they can’t actually see their parents,” CASA for Douglas County executive director Kimberly Thomas said.
Angela Haslett used to spend her days asking children about the people who hurt them.
The calls came from police or child protective services, sometimes 10 to 15 a week, most of them about sexual abuse. The children would sit across from her in a soundproof room at SafeSpot Children’s Advocacy Center in Fairfax, Va., as the forensic interviewer asked in a soft voice: “Has somebody done something to your body that they shouldn’t have?”
Lately, it’s gone quiet. Since the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close and families to stay home, the calls have slowed to two to five a week, with more of them involving children with injuries so visible — a broken arm, a beat-up face — an adult had to seek medical help.
Bronx: I am a 22-year-old honor roll college junior. I was on track to being one of the success stories of young people who leave foster care. Now, I’m not so sure.
I entered foster care for a year when I was two and re-entered at 13. At 17, my grandmother became my legal guardian. After I aged out at 21, I struggled with homelessness and a lack of support because my mother and grandmother passed away.
I work for a non-profit that focuses on the adoption of older teens in care who are about to age out of the system. I worry about them daily. I had a community. I was nominated to be the next president of my sorority. I’ve surrounded myself with support networks and adults I can depend upon during times of crisis.
On April 29, 2020 Foster Success sent a letter to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb about ways the State can support foster youth during COVID-19.
Dear Governor Holcomb,
We recognize the challenges COVID-19 has placed on you and your administration and appreciate your leadership in this time of crisis. Today, we are writing to commend the work that has been done on behalf of Indiana’s older foster youth and to ask that you take additional action to ensure that we can continue to meet the unique health and safety needs of teens and young adults in Indiana’s child welfare system and their peers who are or have recently transitioned out of care.
Young people in and leaving the foster care system have been hit hard by COVID-19. During a time when many teens and young adults are able to rely on their families for critical support, Hoosiers in foster care must rely on the child welfare system to ensure their safety, health, and well-being. As you know, teens and young adults leaving the care of the child welfare system in Indiana between the ages of 18-21 are among the most vulnerable in our state and that vulnerability has significantly increased during the current public health crisis. Young people have reported: struggling to pay rent, fearing that they will lose their placement or housing, not having sufficient funds for food and being isolated and cut off from emotional support and resources.
I spent seven years in foster care here in Wisconsin, and this COVID-19 epidemic is hitting me and other youth from foster care really hard.
While I was able to reunify with my mother during my last year of foster care, leaving care in this way has meant I am not eligible for many services that help young people who have left foster care during their transition to adulthood.
…During this moment when we are widening our circles, take time to notice the powerful and positive effects neighbors can have on one another. In many ways, we are well-equipped to help each other weather this storm of stress and fear brought on or exacerbated by COVID-19. We can help to build protective factors to keep each other strong. Protective factors are things that can increase the health and well-being of all people – children, adults, families, and communities. For parents, these factors include social connections, quality childcare, and access to services that reduce stress. Helping parents strengthen their foundation of protective factors, especially during this unpredictable time, will make them more likely to withstand and recover from the pressures of the pandemic. Protective factors are particularly important during this crisis, when we have seen increases in calls to national hotlines for parent support and child maltreatment, because these factors help to decrease the risk of harm. …
Right now, Child Protective Services is working with us to figure out how we can provide orientation practices for families who are looking to become foster families. We’re continuing with the families that were already in the process in order to get all of their licensing measures met,” said Joy Petty, the foster care programs director at the El Paso Center for Children.
Petty says they are in need of personal protective equipment, including some essentials like hand sanitizer and disinfectant for the kids and families.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the state plans to allocate $42 million — including $1.6 million from the federal government — to address the needs of young people in foster care and others living in low-income families.
“Bottom line is we have less social worker visits, we have less child welfare referrals because kids are not at school and because people are practicing physical distancing. And that means we still have to find creative ways to safeguard the well-being of our children,” Newsom told KQED.
State has more than 20,000 children already in foster care
April 14, 2020
In Indiana, 50% of the foster children are in DCS homes and the other 50% are in homes with organizations and private agencies like the Villages, the state’s largest not-for-profit child and family services agency, serving more than 3,000 children and their families every single day.
“We’re trying to be really proactive,” said Sharon Pierce, CEO and President of the Villages. “We are surveying our foster families, assessing who has a risk factor, being over 60 or having respiratory conditions that might make them more susceptible and eliminating those families.”
Under stay-at-home orders, foster families across Oregon are experiencing new struggles. Some can’t leave home, have a loss of income or a loss of childcare. The networks that usually fill those needs — such as schools, government agencies and nonprofits — are also under new strain due to the pandemic.
Every Child, an initiative of the nonprofit organization The Contingent, serves kids in foster care in 23 counties across Oregon, through a partnership with the Oregon Department of Human Services.
Child welfare staff members are required to meet with families in person when they open an investigation after receiving referrals that indicate children may be at risk. Those requirements have not loosened in the era of social distancing.
DHS officials say calls to the child abuse hotline fell while Denver Public Schools students were on an extended spring break for three weeks in response to coronavirus. The department said it received 1,246 calls in the first 15 days of March but only 794 calls in the final half of the month.
Social workers, family needs, and foster care are among the essential services that have not been put on pause amid the novel-coronavirus pandemic. In Iowa, while some non-urgent matters can be done via conference calls, new child abuse or family crisis cases must be conducted in person, and are complicated by K-12 schools being closed for the month.
“We have been impacted on basically every front in terms of the work we do,” said Janee Harvey, division administrator of adult, children, and family services at the Iowa Department of Human Services.
Amid the pandemic, both the Iowa Supreme Court and Department of Human Services have made it clear that family reunification comes first and foremost, D’Aunno said, and parent-child visits remain a priority.
“We can’t let up, because if we don’t maintain visits those families are at risk of never getting back together,” D’Aunno said.
A Delaware foster and adoption agency says it’s facing quite a few challenges during this pandemic. They say screenings are more difficult and families who were planning to be reunited are having to wait. They’re also predicting an increase in the need for their services in the near future.
“I think we may expect to see numbers in foster care increase after this is over,” says Laura Storck, the foster care statewide supervisor for Children & Families First. “We have schools that are out. We have daycares that are closed. We have kids that aren’t frequenting hospitals or doctors offices as much, not seeing counselors as often or in a different way.”
Meanwhile, a Maryland organization says 27 foster youth age out of the system every month and this pandemic may make that process even more challenging for them
Advocates for Children and Youth says those who age out of the system during this time may be at more of a risk for homelessness and unemployment because of the current economic situation. The state made a policy change to allow foster youth who are turning 21 during this pandemic to stay in the system until June. But some advocates say that’s still not enough and they’re pushing for a longer extension.
“We are asking for at least a year that youth are able to remain in care after their 21st birthday to ensure that the economy is ready for an influx of youth the enter and that they won’t be set up for failure,” says Rachel White, the child welfare policy director at Advocates For Children and Youth (ACY).