COVID Ravages Alaska’s Already-Broken Foster Care System

COVID Ravages Alaska’s Already-Broken Foster Care System

On average, Alaska’s Office of Children’s Services (OCS) struggles to find homes for 3,000 foster children. Now that COVID has limited the already insufficient number of qualified workers, facilities, and eligible foster families, there has been a scramble to find temporary housing.

Thanks to the unstoppable commitment by Rob and Kathleen Raskin and their loyal supporters, stories like this won’t go unnoticed as they take a backseat to the ongoing drama of disease, politics, and war.

The desperately insufficient 1,100 licensed foster homes in Alaska have dropped to 650. This has resulted in OCS workers pulling 40 – 50 hour shifts per week to stay in hotels with these youths. The consequence of this is a staff turnover increase from an already high 30% to an unprecedented 60%.

Unfortunately, the underlying systemic failure is not likely to be resolved when the COVID problem has been adequately addressed. Instead, it’s going to take a deliberate push from within, and possibly without, by lawmakers and citizens to fix this. While the OCS itself seems genuinely concerned and committed to solving the problem, every day that passes without a solution means hundreds and possibly thousands of children are more vulnerable than ever.

Best case scenario…

The ideal case of a child being adopted to a good family via the foster care system is still a story about a person with a dark, traumatic secret. They were adopted and often abused, abandoned, and neglected by the people who gave them life. Many of these people need ongoing support to cope with the trauma, so it doesn’t dominate their lives.

Where are the resources to help kids aging out of the foster care system lead ordinary and productive lives when resources are too scarce to take care of the kids in need of homes today?


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