HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — The pandemic has changed how a lot of things function, but the need for foster care homes has not diminished since its onset in the Mountain State.
West Virginia nearly tops a grim statistic in the United States:
“We are just in a dire need for foster homes. In the state of West Virginia, there are 7,000 kiddos that are in the system. So per capita, with our state, we’re one of the highest states throughout the United States…We’re in crisis mode, you could say.”Liz Watson, foster parent recruiter, Necco
This is a troubling problem, only complicated by the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It may seem to be shut down, things like that. The need for foster care never slows down. It’s always been here, it always will be here.”Liz Watson, foster parent recruiter, Necco
Liz Watson, a foster parent recruiter with Necco—a foster care placement and adoption organization—says there are many willing and loving families out there who have continued to open their hearts and homes even during the pandemic.
Their Huntington office alone has placed 183 children.
Kaitlyn and Ashley Mundy recently took on foster children of their own.
“We’ve adopted three, and we still are fostering. We have two fosters in the household right now. It’s been the biggest blessing, they complete us, I don’t know what I would do without them.”Ashley Mundy, foster parent since 2017
However, they say the pandemic has made the undertaking slightly harder in some regards.
“Visits with family are harder. Every symptom you have and/or you come in contact with anybody who has, or been around anybody who has a fever or anything like that, you can’t see parents.”Ashley Mundy, foster parent since 2017
COVID-19 has not only complicated the foster care recruitment process; it may have also complicated the process by which vulnerable children are identified in the first place.
“The kiddos are at home, they’re doing remote learning, there’s not a lot of tips going on, things like that. So I just think overall, that’s been a concern.”Liz Watson, foster parent recruiter, Necco
Watson says they expect to see referrals for kids to be placed with foster homes to rise once children are back in school.
Necco, the organization for which Watson works, has made it easier for people to become certified as a foster parent in an effort to recruit more—people can become certified online in as little as 12 weeks. She says they are in need of people willing to take in school-age children and teenagers.
For more information about West Virginia’s foster care system, visit this website.
For more information about Necco, visit this website.