May is Foster Care Awareness Month, and the need for foster parents is higher than ever because of circumstances caused by COVID-19. There are over 12,000 children in foster care, with 800 of them in Kent County alone. However there are many ways you can help these children, even if becoming a foster parent isn't an option right now.
Jessica Nestor, Foster Care Recruitment and Retention Specialist at Catholic Charities West Michigan, discusses the ways people can help children in foster care through their organization.
Because of COVID-19, many families are experiencing economic hardship and spending more time together at home. This unfortunately increases our concerns about family domestic violence. Additionally, children are not in school and less likely to see mandated reporters such as school teachers and counselors on a regular basis, and abuse could be going on behind closed doors.
There is a great need for foster parents and respite homes in West Michigan, especially for teens and sibling groups. Catholic Charities West Michigan has adapted all their foster parent training and orientation for the foster care licensing process during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition they are doing virtual "home visits" during social distancing to keep the process moving forward.
For those who can't become a foster parent, there are other ways to get involved including sharing posts about foster care and adoption on social media, volunteer as a CASA, mentor, or at the Closet of hope, and donate to Catholic Charities West Michigan.
If you feel called to become a foster parent, visit ccwestmi.org/foster or call (616)-401-2980.