Former Stoneleigh Fellow Kathleen Creamer spoke to The Marshall Project about managing virtual visits for children separated from their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foster care system, built on frequent movements of children from one home to another and regular in-person supervision, has been especially wracked with confusion and dread by the coronavirus crisis.
In some states, investigators of child abuse have told The Marshall Project they are so fearful of spreading the illness from home to home that some are trying to do their investigating from the front door, or even over videochat, instead of going inside.
Afraid of bringing the virus into their families, some foster parents are also refusing to accept new children, even if there is no indication they have the virus. Two youth advocates said in interviews that in this climate, they fear foster children are at risk of becoming “the new lepers.”
And across the nation, most visits between birth parents and their children in foster care have been suspended or switched to phone calls, at a time when youth are more in need of reassurance and love than ever. In a handful of places, face-to-face family time is still allowed—but with no touching, even when the visit is with a baby.