BRYAN, Texas — Schools have been closed, playgrounds have been empty, and many child care centers are also not open, which means this quarantine period may see an increase in need for foster families afterward.
Foster families are all around you and you might not even know it.
“They’re your next-door neighbor. They’re the people whose houses are behind you. There are families who have said yes, I can open my heart and open my home to be available to a child or home that has been neglected. Those families are everywhere," said foster and adoption program director Dr. Sharen Ford.
But in a time when children are not out and about in their natural everyday places like schools or doctor visits, Dr. Ford said it is difficult to check on the welfare of that child.
“We are kind of in anticipation for a major awakening about finding out what is going on in folks' homes during the sheltering period. We haven’t seen children on the playground, schools have been closed, childcare facilities have been closed and so those natural places where people see children aren’t there right now. And because they’re not there, once they open back up, there will be an uptick in the number of calls that come in about children that have been in unsafe situations," said Ford.
After many more people come out of their stay-at-home orders, there may potentially be a large shuffling of kids who have been abused or neglected while they were stuck at home.
“I think about it sometimes like a volcano. We know there are volcanoes all over the world and all of a sudden, it wants to erupt, there are tremors. It will heat up, and then it explodes. Jurisdictions need to be ready. Families that are thinking today about 'I would like to be a foster home', they need to start right now. They need to call those organizations because they’re open. They are first responders too. They need to contact them and say hey what can I do to start the process to be a foster parent," said Ford.
Depending on the jurisdiction you live in, and the family that wants to foster, this process to bring a child into your home may take from 3-9 months.