Fostering a child is an important thing to do, especially in an age of crisis like today.
More and more children are being left at fostering agencies, and children are struggling to cope. Already having feelings of uncertainty and fear, the stress of being trapped without a family during a crisis is a terrifying reality for many children today.
What does this mean for the children in foster care, and how can you help?
Here is just how kids in foster care are being affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and what you can do to make it better for them.
How COVID-19 Has Affected Children In Foster Care
While the foster care system was not flawless before the crisis, there has definitely been an increased number of risks within the system. Children are at a high risk of infection from COVID, and being stuck moving from house to house during such an event has brought many negative effects to the children.
More Children in the System
Due to families becoming ill or without money to care for children in the home, more and more kids are being moved into foster care. According to Florida research, many foster care homes have seen an increase of 20% in the children they house.
With the already high turnover rate of foster parents, this means that many children are being added to and left in the system with little hope of getting a family again.
Strong Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness
Quarantine is effecting everyone, and foster care children are no exception. Kids are being kept in and away from their friends and remaining family to combat the virus, leaving them feeling more isolated and traumatized than they would otherwise be.
Uncertainty is a constant in the life of any child in foster care, but now with the inability to know when they may get out of the system, their lives have turned into consistent stress. Anxiety is high among foster kids from their feelings of abandonment and combined with a sense of dread from the virus, many have been plagued with overwhelming stress.
Due to their additional stress, many children in foster care are displaying excess behavioral issues. This can include, but is not limited to:
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty staying still or concentrating
- Anger management problems
- Problems using the bathroom properly
- Issues with friends
- Violent outbursts
- Severe mood swings
These issues can make them less likely to get into safe and happy foster homes later on.
Panic Attacks and/or Flashbacks
Depending on the reason for the child being placed into foster care, their stress may trigger various traumatic episodes, such as panic attacks or flashbacks. This can lead them to isolate themselves further or to cling to whatever source of comfort they can to extreme extents.
What You Can Do to Help
If you are a foster parent or are considering becoming a foster parent during the crisis, there are plenty of ways that you can help the children in your care. Aside from providing them with a stable and secure household, here are just a few of the ways you can make the child/children in your care feel more comfortable and safe.
Keep in Touch with Your Foster Child
During the pandemic, it may be more difficult for you to be physically close to your child. Be sure to stay in remote contact with them on a regular basis, whether it’s through text, virtual hangouts, or phone calls. This will keep their feelings of isolation at bay. Keeping your foster family emotionally connected is a great way to keep your foster kid feeling happy.
Keep Your Foster Child in Touch with Their Family
Similarly, it’s important to keep your foster child in touch with any family they may have left. It’s already scary enough for them to be in an unfamiliar place during a pandemic; by helping to arrange meetings with people they love, you can help them stay calm and happy.
Donate to Fostering Organizations
With the rise in children in the foster care system, many groups find themselves running out of money and resources to properly care for the children they keep. Donate to reputable organizations to help keep children safe while in the foster care system.
There are many charities and organizations that you can donate to, so educate yourself about them and consider giving them some help!
Keep a Routine
Keeping your foster child in a routine is a great way to keep them healthy and happy.
By giving them a consistent list of things to do, you will keep them active and concentrate on their daily life rather than focusing on their trauma and fear of the future. Be sure to give them plenty of time to be a kid, while keeping them connected to you and their family!
Consider Therapy or Counseling
If your child shows signs of behavioral issues or extreme stress, you may want to consider signing them up for therapy or counseling. Speaking to an outside source can help them alleviate stress and get their emotions out.
Many agencies will prepare you to help your child in similar ways to a therapist, but taking them to a licensed professional may be the best solution.
Keep Yourself Healthy and Safe
Keep your home safe by keeping yourself safe; be sure not to take high risks that may expose you to the virus while caring for your foster child. You want to make your home a safe space for them.
This also means you should avoid alcohol and any other dangerous substances while you have a foster child in your care. This will help your child feel safer and more secure in their foster home.
It’s important to keep yourself in the know while caring for your foster child. These resources may provide helpful advice to you for caring for your foster child and keeping them in a safe and healthy environment!
Help Keep Children Safe During COVID
With these tips, you will be able to keep children in foster care feeling safe, healthy, and content in your care. Remember to be patient with your foster child and give them the attention they need and deserve to feel safe.
Helping to relieve the foster care system with pandemic child welfare is one of the best ways that you can make a difference for a child today.
Be sure to leave a comment down below with anything you have learned, as well as your own experiences caring for a foster child. We’d love to hear your thoughts!