TEXAS, USA — The COVID-19 pandemic revealed an increase in Texas children entering the foster care system.
Now there's an app launching soon to help support foster parents and reduce the high levels of turnover among foster care workers and parents.
Texas DFPS reports thousands of Texas children are in the foster care system right now.
Justin Hayes, Executive Director at The Fostering Collective says because of the pandemic, "unfortunately there have been more and more children going into foster care."
However, there's not enough families to meet the new demand and because of that, East Texas children are having to travel further away from their life and community.
Hayes says he's seen children go to Dallas, Austin, Houston and as a foster parent himself, even had "a child that stayed with us for a couple nights and then had to be sent to San Antonio." Justin says seeing families separated is sad.
He says there is always a need for more foster care families, but especially for older children and sibling groups.
The low number of foster parents is largely attributed to the high turnover rate.
According to Hayes, over half of foster families quit within the first year because of lack of support, which is where The Fostering Collective comes in.
Hayes says the organization helps to train foster families to "learn how to connect with those children and empower them" to persevere because Hayes believes the main thing a child in the system needs is "just for someone to connect with them."
A Texas-based nonprofit is launching an app in May that could revolutionize foster care across the state and provide stability for children in the system.
Currenly, Hayes says the foster care process can take 4 to 6 months.
Leslie Beasley, Miracle Foundation CEO says the FosterShare app was created to "reduce the high turnover of foster case workers and families."
Beasley says on average, children can bounce around from home to home seven times.
Miracle Foundation says the app will streamline the paperwork process for families and case workers and also provide support at the touch of a button.
Beasley says the nonprofit wants to "give them the support they need" whether it's medical, birthdays, camps, or articles to read so families can "stick with this important job they've committed to."
Whether you prefer in-person communal support like, The Fostering Collective or virtual like, FosterShare, Leslie Beasley says "every child deserves a family" and it can start with you.
May is Foster Care Awareness Month. The Fostering Collective plans to host celebrations for their current families as well as informational for perspective ones.
FosterShare is also expected to launch this month.