SUMMER 2020 NEWSLETTER
Greetings from the Board of Homes For Youth. This is a challenging time for us. We continue to meet via Zoom. Our board meetings tend to be a bit briefer. We want to thank especially those who have donated to our Roof fund to replace the roof at the house. We have applied for a grant for the replacement to the Community Foundation and to the Perry N. Rudnick fund so we hope one of those comes through. We plan to replace the roof this fall.
Thanks to the Area 8 members of the WNC Quilters Guild for the beautiful quilts donated to the girls at our foster home. Each girl who lives at our foster home gets a quilt to take with them to send them off with a message of love.
Since we don’t have a lot of business going on, I thought you may be interested in the impact of the pandemic on foster care in the county. I spoke with our foster parents and separately to a representative at the Department of Social Services for their perspective.
There are now four girls at the H4Y house, Vanessa 17, Mary 15, Ursala 14 and Alice 3, sister of Ursala. During the day Alice is going to children’s daycare. With no school or availability of the Boys and Girls Club, Ursala and Mary have been going to the Kellogg Center, a YMCA camp for older girls. Vanessa has been admitted to the Boys and Girls Club during the day. Vanessa came to us from Georgia and is expected to be staying a short time, an emergency placement. For several weeks when school closed there was a difficult time in finding a place for the girls while Susan and Keith were maintaining their essential jobs. The girls have been stressed because of the pandemic shut down and miss their friends and interaction at school. And their education was hurt as well due to the early termination of the school year. (These names are fictitious for their anonymity.)
There was a scare in May when a teacher at the children’s daycare was diagnosed with COVID-19. Alice was tested and was negative as were Susan and Keith but they had to quarantine for two weeks. There was another scare at the end of June. That time they only had to stay home 5 days, after the test came back negative. Fortunately that ran into the weekend.
At DSS, they have been challenged with training additional foster parents. There is a constant need for more foster families as some choose to adopt their foster children and some want to take a respite. Additionally, during the shutdown of schools, foster parents who must continue to work have been especially challenged. Daycare centers can fill up and the Boys and Girls Club restricted the number of children to 150 to maintain social distancing. Some had to decide between keeping kids or working. Also some families had to quarantine if a child in daycare was exposed to the virus. Now the six week delay in having children in school adds to the burden.
Training new foster parents has its own challenges. Normally DSS would have about three classes a year in the Model Approaches to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) program. Classes would range from six or seven families to twelve or so. Under state guidance, they switched to a program called Deciding Together which is usually done in a tutoring environment with one family. DSS has trained six families with this program remotely with three families at a time. This limitation on remote training and the potential virus exposure has restricted recruitment and thus fewer families being trained in foster care.
There has not been a significant change in the number of children in foster care of about 160. Teachers are often the first notice when children have been abused or neglected. With remote learning, the situations of at risk children are often unknown. Also lacking adequate supervision, as many parents return to work, youth are put at increased risk.
We are glad to hear about the growth and progress of some of our former foster girls. Tiffany returned from her Outward Bound experience and is living in Asheville and attending A-B Tech. Tiffany is taking general classes in hopes of transferring to a four year program. She made the Dean’s list! Ally completed her CNA training and is now working at the Elizabeth House. This proves that there are success stories from former foster children who have been in a loving home with a structured life.
As always, we thank our donors for your support. We will muster on through this pandemic