CHICAGO (WLS) -- The impact of COVID-19 on the foster care system has often been overlooked.
"We have seen a 30% increase in the number of youth that are in need of foster homes and in need of foster parenting," said Nichole Anyaso, Vice President of Child Welfare services for Ada S. McKinley Community Services.
Young children and teenagers taken from abusive and neglected homes, some made only worse by the lack of escape during shutdowns, have been among the most affected.
"What we've found is typically they've been placed with extended family members who are simply unable to provide care for them during this difficult time," Anyaso said.
Ada S. McKinley community services is their refuge, but what these children need is a safe home.
Someone to love and care for them.
"I had thought about it years ago and my kids are grown and gone," said Sandra Minter, a foster parent.
So rather than hunkering down this summer, Minter became a mom again to an 8-year-old little girl.
"It gave me life back. It gave me something to do. It gave me someone to care for," Minter said. "She needs me as much as I need her."
There are so many more children who desperately need that love and nurturing from a family willing to take them in.
Ada S. McKinley said they follow all health protocols and provide protective equipment as they plead with people to give a child a loving space.
"It will be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever thought you could have," Anyaso said.
Youth in need of foster care homes increases during COVID-19 pandemic