As we all adjust our lives, both personal and professional, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our team at CHS continues its work—albeit in new and creative ways. The uncertainty of our new reality creates additional challenges for the vulnerable and already traumatized children, families and adults with whom we work every day.
In the first of a series, we will explore how the COVID-19 outbreak impacts our clients and our work. Today we hear from our Foster Care Adoption team who is working hard to match children and teens in foster care with forever families.
How COVID-19 impacts the Foster Care Adoption Program at CHS
As with many jobs, CHS social workers are accustomed to meeting with our clients in person to conduct trainings, complete home study interviews, discuss questions, and make adoption plans. We also value our ability to spend quality face-to-face time with the young people in foster care who are waiting to be adopted, as it allows us to build rapport, establish trust, and help them make their voices heard in the process. Due to COVID-19 and the desire to ensure everyone’s health and safety, our team has made a shift such that the vast majority of our communications with our clients are on virtual platforms and video calls. Although this is not ideal, it allows us to continue our crucial work to train families, approve homes, and place children for adoption.
One challenge we are experiencing is that in-person “get to know you” visits between the identified adoptive family and their child-to-be are not able to happen at this time. Although they can have virtual visits, this will ultimately slow down the process of transitioning children into their adoptive homes. We need to be patient and creative so that we maintain momentum and create strong, permanent families.
Another challenge to our work is that the court system is currently limiting hearings to emergency matters. We depend on the court system to help us complete adoption petitions and sign final orders. Since much of this is a mailing and paperwork process, we feel hopeful that this will not delay too many finalized adoptions.
Lastly, due to schools being closed, we anticipate that there may be a spike in re-placement needs among Virginia’s foster families. This means our partners at Social Services will be engaged in handling those placement crises, which detracts their focus from adoption cases. CHS is stepping in to fill the gaps during this time. We continue to keep tabs on adoption cases and provide support services to those front-line case workers so that the adoption process can continue to move forward. Without our assistance and support, it is very likely that the adoption process would grind to a halt.
Although many things have changed as we practice social distancing and plan for the safety of our team and clients, we remain committed to our mission of finding adoptive homes for children the foster system, and we are using our best creative resources to ensure that the process continues to move forward. We thank you for your support!