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08/28/2020

The SCV Signal | Children’s Bureau continues foster care information, services virtually

Through the pandemic, Children’s Bureau, a nonprofit leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect in Southern California, has continued to serve more than 50,000 at-risk children across Southern California.

“We haven’t stopped and we’re not going to because the need is always there,” said Bernadette Boylan, program manager for foster care and adoption at Children’s Bureau. “There’s children still being abused, still being neglected, and they need a family. That doesn’t stop.”

Children’s Bureau offers a comprehensive foster care and adoption program, along with prevention programs and mental health programs — none of which have stopped through the pandemic.

“When this hit in March, Children’s Bureau kicked it up into high action and thought, ‘We need to protect everybody. How do we still do our job and still make sure that everybody stays healthy?’ And the agency has really taken it seriously,” Boylan added. “Children’s Bureau has really been out there to meet the needs of the community.”

Children’s Bureau has hosted drive-up giveaways for families in need of essential supplies, such as fresh food, diapers, formula and more, and has provided more than 2,000 hours of virtual mental health services, along with more than 3,000 hours of virtual support groups.

In working with children, having to restrict in-person services has been difficult, but not impossible.

“This is a people business — it really is all about relationships,” Boylan said. “These kids come in, they’re needing companionship, they’re needing a family, they’re needing connection. … But what we’ve done is we’ve really latched on to the whole virtual concept, so kids are still being seen the way they should be.”

As worries of COVID-19 continue, it’s also been difficult to place children in homes.

“There are many people who are concerned, and should be concerned, about the pandemic and maybe are not so keen about having a child they know nothing about come into their home,” Boylan added.

In Los Angeles County alone, the foster care population exceeds 21,000 children, with 200 of those foster children waiting for an adoptive family.

Many of these children are either older or siblings in need of families who are willing and able to keep them together. In fact, Children’s Bureau turns away at least 10 sibling sets weekly due to lack of families.

Even so, Children’s Bureau has continued to offer orientations for families interested in foster care or adoption, with more than 250 families participating virtually through the pandemic, while 50 of those families have since begun the process of becoming resource parents, according to Boylan.

Read the full story on the Santa Clarita Valley Signal website.

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