Closed schools and faith-based organizations mean fewer opportunities to witness and report suspected child abuse and neglect
Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications; email@example.com; 248-260-8466
Farmington Hills, Mich. — May 13, 2020— Judson Center, a multi-county human service agency that provides autism programs, behavioral health services, child and family services including foster care and adoption in tandem with its affiliate, Child Safe Michigan, employment services for persons with disabilities, and primary healthcare for all ages, is continuing its efforts to recruit, retain and support foster care and adoptive parents despite the challenges that stay at home orders and social distancing pose.
In Michigan there are approximately 13,000 children in the foster care system. Children enter the foster care system if they cannot remain safely in their own home. Judson Center and Child Safe recruit individuals and families who are willing to temporarily open up their homes to provide a safe and nurturing environment to children in need. The primary goal for children in foster care is to return home to their parents; however, if that is not possible, adoptive homes are also needed.
“The need for both foster care parents and adoptive parents is not seasonal. We have a year-round mission to recruit and retain families.” Khadija Walker-Fobbs said. Walker-Fobbs is Chief Strategy Officer at Judson Center who oversees child welfare programs within both Judson Center and Child Safe Michigan; she is a long-term foster care advocate and respected state leader in multiple foster care initiatives.
Michelle Carlton, Judson Center and Child Safe Michigan foster care and adoption program manager, noted that among the greatest barriers to license foster parents now are the need for physicals, interviews and other protocols that help keep children safe.
“Physicals can be done using telemedicine, but we do believe it’s important to meet parents face to face for interviews to view body language, genuine interest, and an understanding the potential challenges of fostering or adopting,” Carlton said.
One of the challenges to keeping children safe from abuse during the pandemic is the loss of adult/child networks that report on the welfare of children.
“Schools and faith-based organizations are our eyes and ears on the ground for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. This is an issue in the summer when school is generally not in session, but the challenges are greater now that schools and other-faith based activities are closed, too,” Carlton said. “It happens with domestic abuse as well. The strain on families due to loss of income and the frustrations of close quarters during the pandemic contribute to an environment that may already be threatened by emotional or physical abuse.”
While their efforts may be challenged now, Judson Center and Child Safe still want to get prospective parents in the queue for consideration, and continues to use its organization’s foster care navigators and adoption navigators for that purpose.
“Although we are seeing a decreased number of children coming into foster care during this pandemic, we fully expect the number to rise drastically as the state gradually reopens. That’s why the need for safe and loving foster homes and training for foster parents is greater now more than ever,” Walker-Fobbs said.
Strong support still available for foster and adoptive parents
On the support front, Judson Center and Child Safe continue to hold virtual orientations for those who are interested in becoming approved to foster. Once a family is approved to foster, the agency offers monthly foster family support groups. These groups consist of families with or without current placements, who support each other by sharing challenges and successes with each other. This support is vital to many families, which is why virtual support groups are offered during this time when social distancing is necessary.
Judson Center and Child Safe are still advising, counseling and supporting foster and adoptive parents using social media tools like Facebook live, telehealth and telephonic outreach for programs including the Post-Adoption Resource Center (PARC—a program of Michigan Health and Human Services) and Judson Center’s Parent Partner program for birth parents, called Building Community Partners (BCP).
In the voluntary Parent Partner program, a parent whose child is in the foster care system is partnered with another parent who has already gone through the child welfare system and has since been reunified with their child(ren). Parent Partners, who are well informed on foster care matters, understand the concerns of parents working within the child welfare system and provide support and resources to parents whose child is placed outside of the home.
Want to learn about becoming a foster or adoptive parent? To learn more about becoming a foster and adoptive parent, contact 313-255-8272 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Judson Center
Judson Center, trusted by Michigan families for more than 95 years, is a non-profit human service agency that provides expert, comprehensive services that strengthen children, adults and families impacted by abuse and neglect, autism, developmental, behavioral and physical health challenges so they can achieve whole health, well-being, and maximum potential. Judson Center also offers integrated primary healthcare for all through Judson Center Family Health in Warren. Since opening its doors in 1924, Judson Center has grown to change the lives of over 12,000 children, adults, and families each year. Judson Center has offices in Genesee, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Headquarters are located at 30301 Northwestern Highway, Suite 100, Farmington Hills, MI 48334-3277. Learn more at https://www.judsoncenter.org/.