For many, the holidays are a time of tradition, new memories sprinkled among old memories, and the comfort and certainty of family. As we all know, 2020 and COVID-19 have thrown the holidays for a loop this year! We are scrambling to alter or cancel plans for safety, figure out new ways to carry out old traditions and keep in touch when we can’t be face-to-face. This admittedly feels chaotic, unwelcome, and out of our control.
Even in a year when we aren’t facing a global pandemic, children in foster care experience sudden and drastic life changes that feel chaotic, unwelcome and out of their control. Through no fault of their own, they are removed from their original family due to allegations of abuse or neglect, causing many facets of life as they knew it to suddenly shift. In addition to the initial trauma of the abuse or neglect they may have experienced, they now may be placed with relatives, foster parents, or in a residential facility, possibly in another city, likely enrolled in a different school, away from friends and familiar faces. Their life becomes inundated with new faces…caseworkers, attorneys, therapists, teachers, foster parents, or caregivers. For many children in foster care, the only constant is change.
If you pull this description into holiday time, you can see that it sets children and youth in foster care up for a holiday experience they didn’t bargain for. Caseworkers work hard to set up holiday visits with families of origin, but they often do not fall on the holiday itself and, this year due to COVID, are likely virtual. Some of this likely sounds familiar to a lot of us who have had our own holiday plans upended. There is a string of similarity between those situations and the reality of children in foster care during the holidays. It’s all in the interest of safety. Safety for our health, safety for children.
The hope in both situations is to be able to return to our prior norms in a safe manner. Just as we all look forward to the day when we can return to our routines without threat of COVID, the hope is always for children in foster care to be able to return to their family of origin, if it has been deemed safe. As we experience this unique holiday season, may we remember the young members of our community in foster care and hope for their safety and wellbeing.
If you are interested in supporting the work that CASA does to serve children in this situation, consider becoming a CASA. You can learn more about it by visiting https://casaforeverychild.org/volunteer/become-a-casa/. You can also give the gift of CASA this year by donating at http://casaforeverychild.org/give/.