Coronavirus (COVID-19) puts critical link of Michigan’s foster care system in jeopardy

Many foster parents hesitant to bring children in during pandemic

DETROIT – There are nearly 13,000 children in Michigan’s foster care system, and right now, a critical link of that system is in jeopardy because of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Many foster parents are hesitant to bring children into their homes during the pandemic.

Also, one agency told Local 4 it would typically receive five to 10 calls of possible abuse or neglect per month, and now they’re getting about one call per month.

Calls of abuse and neglect of children are clearly down during the stay-at-home order, leaving experts to wonder what’s really going on inside some Metro Detroit homes.

“There are a lot of children that would typically have been reported to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the police department, the school system, and because of the closing, these children are at home and potentially experiencing abuse and neglect," said Tom Krolicki, the senior vice president of Wolverine Human Services.

The need for foster parents is high, and agencies like Wolverine Human Services are frustrated as many rethink becoming foster families.

“Traditionally, foster parents have always opened their doors to children in need," Krolicki said. “This situation created something different. There is a lot of fear.”

Samantha and Evelyn Allore are foster parents to three children. They’re encouraging fellow foster parents to continue taking in children.

“It made us stronger as a couple and as individuals,” Evelyn said. “We took in these children and understand we are what they have.”

Coronavirus research: First cases in October? 200 different mutations? Vaccine proving difficult?

As the foster system tries to protect and place the children, officials are reminding everyone to keep an eye out for children who might be in danger.

“When the teachers are not there with children, we miss a lot of those cues,” Krolicki said. “Additionally, even visits to the pediatric office, dentists -- these were all part of our social network that helped us keep things stronger.”

Officials at Wolverine Human Services said they’re still in need of more personal protective equipment for staff members and foster families who visit birth families. They’re waiting for the state or federal government to help them fill that need.

About the Authors: