How COVID-19 Will Impact the Foster System

 

COVID 19 has quickly swept through the nation as an unparalleled crisis. There is hope that the preventative social distancing steps will continue to protect at-risk health communities. However, this comes at a cost for children who rely on protective adults to keep them safe.

Lengthy school shutdowns have been detrimental for many at-risk children. They rely on school as a haven, a place that provides meals and emotional resources. Having teachers, coaches and school counselors involved in a child’s life help provide touchpoints to identify abuse or neglect that may be going on in the home. School can also often be the safest place for children to be seen and distance themselves from abusive caregivers. With nationwide stay-at-home orders in effect, there are far fewer mandatory reporters who have access to children that may need assistance. This was proven by over the news that there has been over 50% drop in calls made to Child Protective Services (CPS) in Colorado since the beginning of school closures.

Most children coming into the foster system are coming from situations where their parents are struggling with extensive mental health histories, substance abuse or other crisis that are preventing them from having the necessary resources available to provide for their family. COVID-19 will bring an increased need for family support, as many are losing jobs and resources that normally help keep them afloat. When mental health issues and addiction are mixed with a crisis of this kind, it is reasonable to expect a larger than normal increase in the number of phone calls made to The Colorado hotline over the next year as children return to school.

Colorado was already facing a foster care crisis, with not enough foster parents available to provide safe homes and beds for children in need. Now more than ever we need families and individuals to consider foster care or support for those who are fostering. Here are four simple ways anyone can help children in need due to the COVID-19 crisis.

 

  • Adopt a foster family- Consider “adopting” a local foster family, Nightlight has over 50 families caring for children who would love the extra support! This can be as simple as mailing encouraging cards and making a meal once a month, to more involved options like helping with laundry or assisting with transportation for kids.

 

  • Support Homes for Home a local emergency foster care program- A local program designed to provide stability and a safe landing place for emergency foster placements could use your support. The biggest need is respite care, or childcare within the family’s home, as it provides them a much-deserved and needed break. Learn more about Homes for Hope and other ways to support the program here.

 

  • Consider becoming a certified foster home- Learn more about providing a safe space in your own home for children in the foster system. Children are needing families open to temporary, short and long-term foster homes, as well as families open to adopting children who cannot reunify with their families. Email [email protected] to learn more about your options or check out our website at https://nightlight.org/colorado-foster-care/

 

  • Donate your stimulus check towards helping foster children in need- COVID-19 has impacted families in different ways. If you have been fortunate enough to not need the stimulus check to meet your needs, consider donating it to support your local community’s children. Your donation will help provide resources to local foster families as they take on the increased needs of the foster system.

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Nightlight Foster Adoption Family Tells Their Foster Adoption Journey

Foster Family- CrainBy Kate Crain, Foster Adoptive Parent with Nightlight Christian Adoptions

We thought raising four boys aged 15-23 gave us a good handle on parenting. With more time on our hands, now seemed like a great time to fulfill our dream of adopting. The Adoption Exchange website brought to life the children who are so often hidden within our society. Our boys vetoed the idea of another brother, so we began our girl search. And that idea of knowing how to parent? My best friend, a therapist in Texas who adopted her three children, convinced me otherwise! “You are awesome parents… but learn as much as you can and call me anytime!”

An 11-year-old girl seemed to speak to us through her video. She was asked what she wants in a fam-ily. “A mom and a dad,” she replied quietly. Nightlight expedited our home study and we became a certified fos-ter home within 6 weeks after training. Our dream was becoming a reality, but we certainly did have so much to learn!

Reading books on traumatized children became our past-time. We interviewed psychiatrists and thera-pists who specialize in the needs of foster children, and evenings were filled with Karyn Purvis videos. Multiple placements during the past five years meant she had endured much change, multiple parenting styles and in-consistencies in life. We quickly learned that more important than knowing all the answers is surrounding your-self with people who can help you find them. Our new therapist Debbie met with us twice in preparation to meet our daughter for the first time, and advice from Nightlight, caseworkers and my best friend proved invaluable.

Our first meeting was heaven! Five weeks later she was placed in our home, and we thought, “This is smooth sailing, we are really good at this!” She was affectionate and loving, though she more readily bonded with me. Even though we saw no oppositional or emotionally challenging behavior, we all saw Debbie weekly for support. The “Honeymoon Phase” is what they call it, and we got a month. How thankful we were for that basis of trust that was built between she, our therapist and us over those first four weeks. And even though our life has become much more difficult in many respects, the love that is blossoming is truly a gift from God.

A friend who is also the father of boys and in the process of adopting a girl told me that others say they don’t “get it.” Why would someone with a seemingly perfect family delve into adopting an older child? And he tells them, “You don’t have to get it, because I do.” If more people “got it” there wouldn’t be any children without families.

She has now been with us three months, and it will take much longer than that to soothe the hurts she has endured. But it is something we will do together. With love, laughter, tears and prayer. I’ve learned not to be so quick to judge, as now we have the child who at a tall age 11 occasionally behaves much younger in public. I bear defiance and anger that I know is subconsciously directed at events long ago. But more importantly, I close my eyes and envision a beautiful, confident young woman, the woman I know God has destined her to be. One who will achieve her dreams with that “mom and dad,” and a bonus four brothers beside her… loving, sup-porting and believing in her. Forever.

To learn more about Nightlight’s Fostering Love for Adoption Program visit Nightlight.org or read our latest Newsletter.