Lake Toxaway Charities approved a $5,000 emergency grant on April 8th to Creating a Family to support the development of a curriculum to help foster and kinship families in Transylvania County during the COVID 19 pandemic.
This pandemic will cause “very significant negative costs in the form of child abuse, domestic violence, hunger and long-term educational and behavioral health problems”Judith Sandalow
Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center
More information about the emergency grant:
Children who have been abused and neglected are left with both physical and emotional scars from this childhood trauma. These emotional scars are often expressed in challenging behaviors and learning challenges, which are exacerbated with a change in routines, loss of structure, and an increase in stress in their lives and families. Children in foster and kinship care in Transylvania County are also more likely to have been exposed to alcohol and drugs prenatally, again with resulting behavioral and educational issues. In addition, foster and kinship families are subject to the same stresses the rest of us are feeling during this time of uncertainty—job loss, home schooling, more people in the house, parenting 24/7, etc. Kinship families in particular are often on the edge financially and being especially hard hit by this pandemic.
We cannot afford to lose a single foster or kinship family in Transylvania County. There are currently 50 children in foster care in Transylvania County. While the exact number of children being cared for by grandparents and extended family members outside of the child welfare system is unknown, it is estimated to be about 1000. The Department of Social Services reports these families are concentrated in the western poorer parts of our county.
Stressed and unsupported foster and kinship families are more likely to disrupt the placement and return the child to the child welfare system.
Transylvania County Department of Social Services reports that they have already had one disrupted foster placement due to the stress of this crisis. The cost of a placement disruption is huge in both emotional and financial terms. Children who have already experienced the loss of their birth family, lose another family. We know that each loss reduces the child’s ability to attach to another caregiver and increases behavioral and mental health issues. A direct correlation also exists between disrupted placements and school absences and academic delays. Further, the more disruptions a child experiences, the more likely they will be placed in a more restrictive placement, such as a therapeutic foster home or a residential group home placement. These more restrictive placements are hard to find and significantly more expensive. For example, the cost of one child in a residential placement for one year can be well in excess of $120,000.
Sadly, every single child welfare worker we have spoken with has acknowledged that the collateral damage from this pandemic will be more children entering foster care. Judith Sandalow, the Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center, states that this pandemic will cause “very significant negative costs in the form of child abuse, domestic violence, hunger and long-term educational and behavioral health problems”, including an increase in substance abuse, which is one of the top reasons that children enter foster or kinship care in Transylvania
Research has shown that the support groups that are most successful as measured by longevity are those that provide a mix of education and community-building through discussion. Foster and kinship families are desperate for support and a place where others “get” their experience, as well as practical tips for how to cope.
Creating a Family is uniquely qualified to create the group and the curriculum. They are a Transylvania County based national foster, kinship, and adoption education and support nonprofit. Creating a Family has provided over 10,000 instructional hours of training for foster and adoptive families and professionals in the last year. For the last 12.5 years they have been bringing the knowledge and experience of top experts to parents and professionals in the trenches. They have extensive connections with nationwide experts to tap to help us create the curriculum and appear on the videos to bring world-class knowledge to the families of Transylvania County. You can find more information about Creating a Family at their website at http://www.CreatingaFamily.org.