Kansas foster care advocates offer support during pandemic

Health Check

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The coronavirus pandemic may have shut down cities, businesses and many services, but foster care in Kansas is ongoing.

“From July 1, 2019, to April 2020, there have been 3,054 children that have come into Kansas state custody,” Katie Johnson, a TFI Foster Care worker, said.

Robin Riesehick from Holton has been a foster parent with TFI Family Services for 16 years.
She currently has two of her own kids, and six foster kids in her home ages 7 to 17.

“I had two kids during this coronavirus pandemic that I let live here. There are so many kids out on the streets that don’t have homes to live in, even with the coronavirus happening. So they are out there alone,” Riesehick said.

A main concern is the lack of abuse and neglect tips coming into the Department for Children and Families (DCF) hotline while kids are out of school.

“There are not as many children coming into the state’s custody right now. And a lot of that has to do with the number of hotline tips that are given to DCF. The majority of those come from teachers,” Johnson said. “So with children not being in school, there are not as many hotlines or allegations of abuse and neglect made to DCF.”

Riesehick said she’s doing everything she can to make sure the children in her home stay healthy, safe, and productive with their school work during the pandemic.

“They know that I am here, and they know I am not going to let something happen to them,” she said. “There are so many kids out there, who don’t have a bed to sleep in at night. This is already a bad thing that is happening. Could you imagine a kid sleeping in a shelter with a bunch of other kids that the shelter could carry the coronavirus?”

Riesehick went on to say that if there’s one child for every household, even every five households, that one child isn’t sleeping on a cot.

“And then once you’ve done that, these foster kids all over Kansas will make it,” Riesehick said.

For more information on becoming a foster parent or providing donations for families, visit: http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/PPS/Pages/FosterCareServices.aspx and https://tfifamily.org/ .

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