HOUSTON - On Thursday afternoon, Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services held their annual luncheon to raise funds and awareness about foster care.
It was the first time they’ve been able to gather in person since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The past 2-years put a major strain on the foster care system, creating difficulties for foster parents and children, as well as the agencies that work to support them.
"We were able to connect with other foster parents in person and at support groups, we were able to attend trainings and events together, once COVID hit all of that stopped and shutdown," said Melinda, a foster and adoptive parent who chose to only provide her first name.
During the pandemic, many foster and adoptive parents lost critical in-person resources that they depended on.
"Certainly it was a strain, most importantly on the children and families, we serve whether it was employment issues or the stress of the moment that it created in families," said David Thompson, President of PCHAS. "We’ve struggled along with them, to try to support them through the pandemic."
Now that it seems society is finally coming out of the constraints that COVID-19 caused, the foster care system is still recovering; and with critical in-person services getting back up and running, there’s a call-out to prospective foster and adoptive parents in our community.
"Foster care is such an important need; there is a shortage of foster homes, and so we are always encouraging people who feel a call to serve as a foster family to respond to that call," said Thompson.
Thursday’s luncheon included several speakers, including foster and adoptive parents who attested to just how helpful private agencies like PCHAS are during the foster care and adoption process. PCHAS has programs available to assist current and future foster parents.
"For anyone out there that’s thinking of being a foster or adoptive parent, just go for it," Melinda said. "The right agency is out there for you, and they will help you through the process."
However, PCHAS also puts a strong emphasis on trying to prevent children from ever entering the foster care system, with programs that help and support biological families.
"In addition to the need for more families which is absolutely true, it’s the need to try and keep children from experiencing that trauma and abuse and neglect to begin with," Thompson said.
One of the PCHAS prevention programs takes services directly into the home of biological families, helping them to set goals and navigate, free of charge. Another program takes entire families and places them in apartments where they provide critical resources to help keep families together.
If you’d like more information about these programs, the process of becoming a foster parent, and the resources available to assist you throughout the journey, follow this link. Presbyterian Children's Homes & Services | Foster Care & Adoption (pchas.org)