LUBBOCK, Texas — The demand for foster homes across the South Plains is on the rise and as the state continues to re-open, experts anticipate an even greater need for foster families.
Due to quarantine, children in at-risk homes haven’t been in touch with counselors and teachers who are mandated to report abuse. As programs reopen, Texas Family Initiative expects more reports. As a result, this will mean even more of a rise in demand for foster homes.
“We have been in a placement crisis everyday that I have been working here for the past 21 years,” said Senior Administrator of Texas Family Initiative Angela Nowell. “We’ve never had enough homes and now it’s just getting worse.”
With COVID-19, even fewer people have applied to be foster parents for fear of contracting or spreading the virus. Children have now been stuck in at-risk homes for months, making it crucial that more beds be available to help protect kids from abuse and neglect.
“These kids, who have been exposed to abuse and neglect for months, are going to be exposed to people that are going to report it,” said Nowell. “The number of kids in foster care is going to go up and we’re not going to have enough beds for them.”
Experts say the goal is to reunite kids with their families and the foster home provides a safe place for kids to live while the family heals. However, that process becomes more difficult as the family spreads out.
“Imagine living in Lubbock for the first eight years of your life and suddenly you live in Houston. When you have kids placed so far away it completely shatters that family connection,” said Nowell.
Aaron Dawson has been a foster parent for seven years to over 20 kids. Given COVID-19, he feels now is a more important time than ever to take on the role.
“COVID has definitely exacerbated some of the anxieties that families have on them like job instability and food insecurity and some of the ways we cope with those things isn’t always healthy, which means we definitely need more foster homes,” said Dawson.
While Lubbock has always struggled to find foster homes, now is the time to give back to the community and provide a safe home to those in need.