4 Ways COVID-19 Is Affecting Foster Care
Currently, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care, and the pandemic is making it challenging to address the needs of these kids. Families in the foster system need to stay up to date on the ways COVID is affecting foster care. By learning about the changes to the system, you can overcome some of the challenges caused by the virus.
Court Hearings Are Being Delayed
Of course one of the biggest changes to the foster care system during the pandemic is the court process. Most foster families have to spend time in court while parents try to regain their rights or foster parents work to adopt children. Right now, most courts are heavily limiting the load of cases they take. In many locations, they are only working on emergency matters or ongoing cases. There is also a huge backlog of cases to get through from when courts were entirely shut down in spring. This means that many families who are waiting on court decisions will have to wait a while longer. A good New Jersey adoption attorney may be able to help you make an application for an emergency ruling, but in many cases, you should still expect lengthy delays.
More Children May Be Left in Bad Environments
An unfortunate foster care COVID-19 change has been the lack of home visits from social workers. In many areas, social workers are working remotely, so they do not see the environment a child is actually in. Some social workers also report that their local courts are too overwhelmed to proceed with removing children from a bad environment. Some social workers are turning to “hidden foster care,” where they threaten removal unless the parent informally places a child with a more stable relative. This can be a stopgap measure, but it does not provide families with the same protections as official foster care. This may lead to more children in need of homes as the virus calms down. Those already licensed as foster care parents may want to go ahead and start preparing for new additions to their families.
COVID-19 Disrupts the Stability of Some Foster Families
Another big COVID foster care change has been the general instability of the pandemic. Many families have lost jobs, and most schools are closed. For foster care families with several children, this can be overwhelming. Parents all over the nation report struggles with child care, schooling, and making ends meet. During normal times, the foster care system would step in to help, but right now, the system is already overtaxed. Struggling foster care parents should discuss these challenges honestly with their social worker, since there may be some forms of government assistance in place.
Foster Parents May Be Eligible for Extra Assistance
The good news is that the government has not forgotten foster care families altogether. Most regions have authorized at least some form of COVID-19 foster care payments. This can provide a few hundred extra dollars each month to ensure the needs of the family are met. There may also be other government stimulus programs designed to help struggling foster parents. However, you do not always get these funds automatically. It may be worthwhile to do some research and find out which grants are available to you. This can cover some of the associated costs of foster care as you work to recover from the pandemic.
Successfully managing all the challenges of foster care is hard at any time, so it is always important to have an experienced family lawyer on your side. Cofsky & Zeidman’s services are especially helpful during the COVID-19 crisis. Our firm can assist you with foster care hearings, adoption filings, and more. We are working remotely, so you can get legal assistance without compromising your safety. To schedule your consultation with a New Jersey adoption attorney, call us today. Reach our Haddonfield, NJ, office at (856) 429-5005, our Woodbury, NJ, office at (856) 845-2555, or our Philadelphia, PA, office at (215) 563-2150.