With all of us having to digest all of this happening pertaining to the global pandemic of the Corona Virus. I have to raise the following:
Children in foster care have a higher rate of acute health conditions than the general population. The huge numbers of children being held in institutional settings – including older youth in group homes and immigrant children in detention facilities, are at heightened risk of becoming infected. While many of these young people probably will not become seriously ill, they will have their educations interrupted, be removed from their communities and suffer added emotional and psychological harm from the isolation or quarantine.
As college campuses shut down and send students home, foster youth who have aged out of the system often have no home to go to. For now, it appears most schools are allowing students to remain in dorms and campus apartments, but if that changes, former foster youth – who already face huge hurdles to graduate – will find it very difficult to stay in school. They face a litany of bad outcomes if that happens, including homelessness, sexual exploitation and incarceration.
The pandemic is putting the stark needs of vulnerable kids into sharper focus. It is arriving at a time when government policies are putting more children at risk through cuts to nutrition and healthcare assistance, while draconian immigration measures are forcing immigrant families to remain in the shadows, unable to access vital public services. Meanwhile, this epidemic is driving more children into an already overburdened foster care system. It is essential that lawmakers repair our fraying social safety net and keep families together instead of driving them apart.
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