PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - It's going to be a challenging year for many kids and families with online learning. But what about children in the foster care system? FOX 12 spoke with one mom, who has the unique experience of being a teacher and foster parent during these unprecedented times.
“We’ve probably had about 20 children come through our home," said Jessica Young.
Young has been a foster parent for three years.
“So, I think that just, again, shows that the need is great," she said.
While she's taken care of kids as young as nine-months, she said school-aged kids tend to be a better fit.
Young said part of that is because she also works. She's a teacher in the Portland area.
“I think basically my experience as a teacher, as a foster parent is not all that different from anyone else’s," said Young. "This is not our choice, but it’s also one of the things where I see, you know, that we need to be safe at home and I see how hard everyone is working from every angle, from DHS to teachers to families, so I think we’re all in it together.”
As someone with multiple perspectives, Young said she does have concerns about foster kids missing out on in-person learning.
“The child we have right now is incredible and is able to do a lot of self-management and again whether a child is in foster care or not, there are varying levels of how children engage," said Young. "I would say a bigger issue is what’s being lost, kind of socially and support systems that are in schools.”
She said support systems in schools make a huge different in the lives of many kids.
“Sort of the isolation is, I think, harder when you don’t already have a neighborhood set of friends or family members or support system so that part has been challenging," she said. "Kids in care, statistically, I think tend to have more services they have access to at school just for some consistency sake, whether it’s counseling services, that familiar face of a teacher who cares for them every day.”
She also said as a teacher, she's a mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse and worries some children will fall through the cracks this fall.
“That’s something that definitely concerns me as a citizen, as a teacher and as a parent about having kids out of school and not just having those extra support systems and extra eyes on them.”
Finally, she said learning at home means a lot of foster parents can't take in as many kids right now.
“We’ve gotten the calls and we’ve had to say no more often than we normally would or would like to just because space that were sleeping spaces for other children have become learning spaces," said Young.
“And my own work is pretty full, so it’s a little trickier to bring in more children." "So, that’s also a challenge during the pandemic.”
For more information on foster care, click here.
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