COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio’s foster care system was already under stress with the opioid crisis. Now, the coronavirus is adding even more stress, according to some child welfare agencies.
Local non-profit The Buckeye Ranch is reporting a 60 percent increase in children’s cases.
“Really every part of the ranch has been impacted by the pandemic,” Ann Woodford with the Buckeye Ranch said.
The non-profit child welfare agency has made drastic safety changes including switching to telehealth services all while the number of kids coming in continues to climb.
“On an average month, we would see 22 kids enter our foster care program,” Woodford said. “But through the end of March, we had 37 children enter our care.”
The organization believes high-risk families facing unemployment, isolation and kids stuck at home may be playing a factor. Woodford fears it’s not just happening with their organization but also statewide.
“It feels like to us, the numbers are up,” she said.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reports more than 16,000 kids in foster care. It’s not clear yet if there has been a rise statewide.
But before it might become a bigger problem, Woodford is calling on help from those who can in the community.
“Please consider opening your home and becoming a foster parent,” Woodford said. “There are lots of agencies throughout Ohio who need you right now, and our kids need you.”
If you’re interested in becoming a foster home with The Buckeye Ranch, just head to their website https://www.buckeyeranch.org/.