Need for foster families across Texas expected to spike once pandemic is over, experts say
DALLAS - Some groups are concerned that across our state when COVID-19 has cleared, we'll be overwhelmed with child abuse and neglect cases.
The call is going out now for more families to fill the role of foster families.
The coronavirus is changing everything, even the training process for new foster families. One group which licenses foster parents placed children in 78 homes last week. They hope to get twice that number of families in the next training session.
Statewide, calls to the child abuse hotline are down four percent last month compared to March 2019.
Jailynn Smiley is the director of foster recruitment for CK Family Services.
“We're concerned about those children who are home with their families or with individuals who would have normally been reported to Child Protective Services because of doctors and teachers and those involved in their lives not seeing them right now,” she said.
Smiley worries that when stay at home orders are lifted and schools open again, there will be a spike in abuse cases.
“Once school resumes, whether that’s in May or in the fall, we also need to be aware and may see an increase in referrals at that time.
CK Family Services contracts with the state to recruit, train and license foster parents. It has retooled its training to prepare real-world foster parents in a virtual world.
“It's what we had to do because the need is not going away,” said Ryan North with CK Family Services. “And like Jailynn said, we anticipate there is going to be a spike in the need for foster parents. So our responsibility to the community is to make sure the people are engaged and supported for service.”
Through the challenges brought by COVID-19, home visits that are mandated before placement in a foster home are still underway.
“We're taking extreme measures of safety for our staff and for our families and washing hands and providing masks and gloves,” Smiley said. “Because you still have to have that interaction with that family and the children in the home before placement. So we're taking caution and all that, but that’s still happening.”
Because children are still being neglected and abused.
“Those kids are our kids in the community,” North said. “And so our community has to take care of them.”
CK Family Services starts its next training session for prospective foster families on April 14.