Foster care system challenged by COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic is making for additional challenges for children in foster care. Those challenges extend to caregivers and families in the foster care system. We learned more from Kris Jacober from the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation.

“This pandemic has sort of created the perfect storm of bad conditions for kids in foster care and kids in homes, where teachers are mandated reporters, don’t have eyes on them,” said Jacober.

Before the pandemic, teachers could fully pay attention to their students and are considered mandated reporters but now, Child Welfare professionals have a fear for the kids that aren’t being watched.

The number of domestic violence calls has increased since the start of the pandemic in March, said Jacober.

And now parental visitation is much more difficult and there is a lack of accessibility to services that normally help reunite families.

“It just is taking a lot more time for children to get to permanency, either back into their biological families or into adoptive families,” said Jacober.

In the spring, when everyone was home, “it was a challenge for many families who didn’t have technology… who couldn’t keep up with their children,” said Jacober.

Now, the Department of Child Safety policy is that “if a child is in foster care, they need to be in live school.”

Because of this new policy, some foster families, “who care for medically fragile children or who have older people living in their home” have a harder time feeling comfortable sending a child out to be exposed every day, said Jacober.

Both the number of beds in licensed foster homes and the number of foster families has dropped by almost 10 percent over the last year.

“My biggest concern is always, what’s the capacity of our system to make sure that when they get removed from an environment where they were not safe, that their lives improve, that their education stays on track, that they get the things they need so that they can just be kids like every other kid,” said Jacober.

Kris Jacober, Executive Director, Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation

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