Maryland organizations urge Congress to act swiftly to address impacts on children and families caused by the Covid-19 pandemic

Maryland organizations are among more than 570 national, state and local organizations that are urging Congress for emergency child welfare support to address the COVID-19 crisis. Read letter here.

Addiction Connections Resource
Adoptions Together
Center for Children
Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Children
Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
Maryland Chapter, National Association of Social Workers
Maryland Essentials for Childhood
Maryland State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (SCCAN)

Mental health hotline calls on the rise for children during pandemic

May 27, 2020

WMDT

SALISBURY, Md. – While the coronavirus has impacted all of us in some way, some mental health experts say children may be struggling with anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

Doctor Kathy Seifert, a local psychologist, says across the country hotline calls and suicide rates for children above the age of ten are up. She says children could be suffering because of fear of the virus and a change of routine as they’re out of school.

Dr. Seifert adds that there are some warning signs parents can look out for in their children, including a change of mood, excessive worrying about the virus, plus changes in sleep.

Full article here.

Adoption and foster programs face new challenges amidst COVID-19 (MD & DE)

47 ABC

April 13, 2020

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).

Full article here.

Many thanks to child welfare workers in these difficult times (Maryland)

Baltimore Sun

April 10, 2020

By Judith Schagrin, legislative chairperson for the Maryland Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers

We give a round of applause to child welfare caseworkers, those front line responders whose work frequently flies under the radar. These public servants serve our most vulnerable citizens, children at risk of maltreatment or in state custody. Despite the current crisis, child welfare caseworkers continue to be on the front lines. Child welfare never stops because child abuse never stops.

Child welfare caseworkers are in communities assessing children’s safety and offering support to families in this difficult time, some equipped only with coronavirus guidance, their phones and, most of all, their sense of mission. Despite risk to themselves and their own families, they continue working even without the recommended protective gear to be safe. Others scramble to maintain contact with children in foster care and their parents via videoconferencing — sometimes with outdated equipment. These caseworkers are also tasked with the myriad of responsibilities that didn’t end when the pandemic began.

Full opinion piece here.