“The child welfare system as a whole may become incredibly overburdened,” said Jen Braun, president of the Alliance for Children’s Rights, an organization that provides free legal services and other supportive programs for abused and neglected children.
DCFS says in a typical year it serves about 34,000 children.
The agency is recruiting additional foster families who can step in if there’s a future uptick in suspected reports that lead to action being taken, Cagle said.
Meanwhile, advocates are worried about how coronavirus is affecting current foster families. “We just got a call from a really amazing woman,” said Braun. “She is caring for three foster kids who are siblings in her home and she just got laid off from her job.”
Older foster youth who are now providing for themselves are also feeling the effects of a cratering economy. Many have been laid off. And they may have young children of their own. These foster youth already live on a highwire, said Julien of CASA of LA.
“Something like this can really send them into a difficult situation where they don’t have a safe place to live and aren’t able to meet their very basic needs like food,” she said.