Advertisement

Foster parents struggle to keep children connected to biological families

Thousands of foster children have not seen their biological parents in person since March. Meanwhile, the workload for foster parents has increased significantly, and in-person support has all but vanished.

Advertisement

Thousands of foster children have not seen their biological parents in person since March amid the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, the workload for foster parents has increased significantly, and in-person support has all but vanished.

Foster parents in New Hampshire say they're worried about the toll the separation is having on biological parents.

Tiffany Bourque, of Allenstown, has three sons and a foster daughter, who joined the family in February, one month before the lockdown.

"We do video chats and phone calls all the time, but she's not getting that face-to-face with her siblings or her mom or her grandparents," Bourque said.

Lisa Duda, of Manchester, has two foster babies, which means six video chats each week on top of required Zoom meetings with the Division of Children, Youth and Families and the medical team. She's also a single mom with a full-time job.

"Life completely changed," Duda said. "We became more isolated, but the amount of work and effort to keep up these relationships really did increase."

DCYF officials estimated that of the 900 licensed foster care homes in the state, 300 are active, and there is always a need for more. DCYF Director Joe Ribsam said he recognizes the unique burden coronavirus has placed on foster families.

"Overwhelmingly, what I'm hearing is just tremendous resiliency and tremendous dedication from the foster parents," he said.

Bourque is an Instagram influencer, and to celebrate New Hampshire foster families, she created an Amazon wish list and asked her followers if they would help

"We were able within three days to get 107 items bought, which was so, so cool," she said.

Because 37 packages were delivered to her house in a single day, Amazon called Bourque to make sure they were legitimate. She can be found on Instagram at the handle @everythingsolovely.