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Foster care inquiries on the rise in Hampton Roads during COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 1:12 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 17:28:49-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Nationwide, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care.

"We need families that are ready, willing and able to step forward and open their homes to waiting children," said Jewel Cooper, director of the Tidewater Region of United Methodist Family Services.

UMFS in Virginia works to help high-risk children and families reach their full potential.

"In terms of adoptions in our area, it has not slowed down, thank God. That process moves forward and we create permanency for kids," Cooper said.

COVID-19 isn't stopping adoptions. In fact, UMFS has seen an uptick. Currently, 917 youth are in foster care in the Tidewater region, and between March 2020 and last week there has been a 17 percent increase in inquiries compared to 2019.

"We really have seen a lot of inquiries during this period, because people are home and we have a captive audience," said Adalay Wilson, programs director for UMFS. "In the Tidewater office last year, our permanency rate was over 95 percent."

There have been some challenges though, home visits being one – and mental health being another challenge during the pandemic.

"It is compounded for our kids. Everyone feels the pressure and stress, but for our kids, they already faced trauma and they often don't get to see their families [in person], only virtually," Wilson said.

UMFS says the need is great for foster families right now – especially for children from ages 12 to 18.

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