‘We have a very limited amount of time’: Utah’s foster system feeling the strain of the pandemic

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OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – The pandemic has been a difficult road to navigate for our children. Schools opening and closing, missing friends and extended family, and not being able to just be, well, a kid. But there are other young ones in our community that have had it especially hard over the last ten months, those without a permanent home.

Ashley was placed in the foster care system at 14. She was adopted by Suzie and Ryan McCorristin in January of 2020 right before the pandemic, but her sister is still in the system.

“She told me she’s had a hard time talking to her lawyer, the guardian ad litem that’s assigned to her,” says Ashley McCorristin.

Foster care organizations are now using virtual tools to connect kids with families.

“Depending on their living situation, it can be very hard and very isolating,” says Lindsay Kaeding of Raise the Future.

Ashley’s sister is currently living in a foster house that might be welcoming a new boy from the system but the process is looking a little bit different.

“They can’t meet him in person yet, they’ve done a lot of zoom calls in person to make sure that he’s going to be a good fit in the house,” says Ashley.

Organizations like Utah Foster Care and Raise the Future are working in a time where court processes are delayed.

“We are always fighting against time, with working with older kids usually 9-21, we have a very limited amount of time before these kids age out, before we are able to find them a permanent connection,” says Kaeding.

But the local organizations are rising to the challenge by hosting online events to form a new kind of connection and still provide services.

“We typically would meet with family before they would begin the process of becoming a foster parent in their home, now those are done still kind of face to face but face to face via video conferencing,” says Mike Hamblin of Utah Foster Care.

Ashley says what kids going through the system want and need, especially right now, is a stable home and a family to rely on.

Utah Foster Care hosted a virtual event Wednesday at 7 p.m. on their Facebook page where Ashley and her adoptive family answered questions for anyone wanting more information on foster care and the adoption process.

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