Coronavirus taking a toll on MI foster care system

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Experts say that the coronavirus outbreak is taking a toll on our state’s foster care system.

They say that less people want to become foster parents because of the virus. That’s why the state wants people to know there are still ways to get involved.

“The need for foster parents has never been greater,” said Cheri Williams, the Vice President of domestic services at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids.

While many are cooped up in the house during the governor’s stay-at-home order, Williams is worried that this will ultimately harm our youth.

“Kids become very vulnerable to abuse and neglect in their home situations because of these additional stressers,” Williams said. “Many children are unfortunately going to be abused and neglected during this time where we are all in our homes.”

According to Bethany Christian Services, more than 94,000 children were removed from their homes last year because at least one parent abused drugs.

She wants people who are considering becoming foster parents to realize that they don’t necessarily have to leave their homes right now to do it. The organization is offering informational meetings and training, all online.

“This is not the time for us to be myopic, only thinking of our own needs,” Williams said.

She wants to tackle this issue before it becomes an even larger problem.

“We really just want to be thinking ahead about how we can step in the gap for some of these most vulnerable children who we know are in really hard situations right now,” Williams said.

Right now in Kent County, there are roughly 800 children in foster care and more than 13,000 across Michigan.

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, you can visit Bethany Christian Services’ website.