According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 140,000 children lost a caregiver or parent due to pandemic-related causes. So where do those children go? Some of them could end up in the foster care system. But that system is already strained and facing new challenges because of COVID-19. What has the pandemic meant for the state of foster care?
Kai Cotton, youth navigator at A Place 4 Me, spoke to WAMU's "1A" about her experience working with young people who have aged out of the foster care system and the many barriers to their growth and well-being. The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is a longtime partner and supporter of the A Place 4 Me initiative.
The segment, titled "Navigating Foster Care During the Pandemic," aired nationwide through NPR on October 14, 2021. You can listen on 1A's website here.
In her work at A Place 4 Me, Kai shares her knowledge of resources and support with young people seeking housing stability, often after aging out of the foster care system.
In the segment, Kai speaks about the foster care system and its need for change. "Right now, the main goal of the system is for children to be reunited with their parents, but for a lot of us that never happens. When you have an entire system designed to be your parent, it should be set up to have the best outcomes it could possibly have, and unfortunately, that just isn't the case right now."
Kai adds, "I'm a strong believer that if you age out of foster care in a certain county or state, you shouldn't go onward to struggle in that same state."
Kai and her colleagues at A Place 4 Me are partners in the work to open and operate a youth drop-in center for young people in Cuyahoga County who are seeking housing stability.
About A Place 4 Me:
A Place 4 Me is an initiative that coordinates the planning and implementation of local efforts to improve outcomes for transition-age youth in the areas of:
A Place 4 Me achieves these goals through convening, system assessment, planning, using data to drive decision-making, and by partnering with young adults to lead its efforts. A Place 4 Me works to promote racial equity in the youth homeless system.
A Place 4 Me is organized to do this work through a collective impact model of 30 partner organizations hosted by YWCA Greater Cleveland. The leadership consists of Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, FrontLine Service, EDEN, Inc., and Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.
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