GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County’s foster care program, West Michigan Partnership for Children, is searching for families willing to foster children who might have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
WMPC CEO Kristyn Peck said the agency doesn’t have any kids in that situation now but that they see it only as a matter of time.
“It’s not really a question of has it happened but when will it happen,” Peck said.
Peck said the organization wants to be prepared by having a placement home ready when a child in its care first presents symptoms.
Peck understands it’s a big ask but said these kids deserve nothing less.
“When children are placed in foster care, we ask foster families to treat them as if they were their only child,” Peck said. “So really, it would be the same they would do if their own child experienced symptoms of coronavirus.”
The pandemic has also brought on other concerns for the foster care system. Reports of child abuse and neglect have dropped across the board — not because it’s not happening, but because kids are interacting with fewer adults who would report it.
“We don’t have the protective eyes on our kids right now with schools closed and other child care places closed,” Peck said. “Those are really the type of eyes that, if there was a child in need of protection, would be calling authorities in order to prevent that.”
In the meantime, WMPC is preparing for an upswing in cases by ramping up its efforts to recruit foster care families overall.
“We are concerned about what may be happening right now that may be going unreported,” Peck said. “(We’re) making sure we’re prepared to have appropriate placement options for kids that are referred to us.”
You can go to wmpc.care for more information on getting involved with the foster program.