MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Throughout the pandemic, we have talked a lot about the shortages as a result of the impact of COVID-19. Well, another industry that is continuing to feel the impact is foster homes and adoption agencies.
A new study revealed more than 120,000 children have lost a parent or guardian during the pandemic, impacting some children right here in Memphis.
The study was conducted by medical journal Pediatric and suggests that number of children orphaned during the pandemic could be higher than estimated. It found more than half of the children who lost a caregiver were black or Hispanic.
In a statement, Dr. Alexandra Blenkinsop of the Imperial College of London and one of the authors of the study said in part, ”These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where resources should be directed.”
While locally, Agape Family services, an adoption agency, hasn’t seen a drastic increase in orphans, Site Coordinator Michael Scruggs did admit it’s been a sobering reality.
“We haven’t had a lot, let me say that, and thank God to that. But we have had a few of kids who’ve lost their parents during the pandemic,” he said. “It made us more aware during the pandemic. It made us literally tune into what’s going on with the students and those few students that we had that lost their parents to COVID. Thank God they had family to really lean on.”
Scruggs says they try to keep children with relatives, if possible, then provide resources that are needed to keep things a float.
“Usually you would have a family that has been affected by COVID, usually the grandma become the guardian, the auntie become the guardian and they need support and so we stay with them,” he said.
Federal statistics are not yet available on how many children across the country went into foster care last year, but as you just read the need is still very great.