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Post-Pandemic Foster Parent Shortage Impacts Society’s Most Vulnerable

Updated: 4 days ago

By Stephen Bogdan, St. Catherine’s Volunteer Guest Essay Writer


August 2, 2022


The effects of COVID-19 across various industries, on Wall Street, and the national supply-chain debacle, are widely known if not felt. As we continue to navigate the persistence of a global pandemic and eventually adjust to a post-COVID world, many short-falls once exacerbated will resolve of their own volition. In the human services world, however, short-falls seldom resolve without intervention. The pandemic’s impact on society’s most vulnerable–particularly children in foster care–hasn’t garnered the attention equivalent to the predicament.


One such pandemic shortfall, is the widening gap between families fostering children and children needing foster care, which has made finding homes for children of all ages increasingly difficult. National trends show foster parents more frequently declined to foster since the start of the pandemic due to fears of introducing COVID-19 into their homes. Foster parents also cited pandemic related hardships: job loss, emotional strain, issues around childcare and vaccines, and school-related requirements as reasons for not fostering during the pandemic.


In the last year, St. Catherine’s foster care team was only able to place 27 children in foster homes from 247 referrals from multiple counties across the state, and 15 children from the 34 therapeutic foster referrals. This is a decrease of around 15 percent from pre-pandemic placement rates.


"We’ve seen families taking breaks from fostering or reducing the number of children in their care,” says Melinda Gonzalez, Director of Foster Homes and Kinship Care at St. Catherine’s Center for Children.

The pandemic has also caused child-placement or custody court cases to move slowly through the legal system. Delayed or postponed court dates and backlogs for those needing review, have carried over creating a bottleneck of children waiting for placements both in and out of the Foster Care System.


“It’s fast becoming a pressure-cooker issue,” adds Mark Quail, Associate Executive Director of Family Finding and Permanency at St. Catherine’s Center for Children. “We worked closely with our foster families and kinship caregivers throughout the pandemic to ensure they had the support and resources they needed. Without more foster parents coming on board, it isn’t sustainable.”

Each year, thousands of children in New York need foster care placement. These children come to the Foster Care System for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a temporarily solution to a bad situation; for others it’s a long-term arrangement. Children needing foster parents, are often victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, others neglect. Regardless why foster care is needed, at the end of a series of unfortunate circumstances, is a child in need of a someone who has room in their heart and their home.


As the effects of the pandemic finally begin to subside and life returns to some sense of normalcy, consider saying yes when many have said no. You can change the world by changing the life of a child forever by becoming a foster parent. If you have ever wanted to be a Foster Parent, now more than ever, is the time to get involved.


Reasons to Foster

  • Truly care about helping children in need

  • Be part of something greater than yourself

  • Make a difference in a young person’s life

  • Make connections that last a lifetime

  • Opportunity to raise children

Reasons Children Need a Foster Family (Because there are no bad kids!)

  • They have been the victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse

  • They have suffered from neglect due to inadequate housing, food insecurity, or were left alone for long periods of time

  • Witnessed a violent crime or experienced trauma

  • Their parents perished and they have no next of kin

  • Parent or relative’s inability to care for them due to substance abuse, physical or mental illness, financial circumstances or generational barriers

  • No fault of their own! Just a combination of troubling situations no child should have to endure alone

St. Catherine’s Foster Parents Receive

  • Extensive training and continuous support

  • Team approaches – you aren’t in this alone!

  • 24-hour staff coverage

  • We provide children and their birth family critical services

  • We teach families how to provide a caring treatment setting.

  • Family Counseling Services

How You Can Help


Related Links:

About St. Catherine’s Center for Children

St. Catherine’s Center for Children was founded by the Daughters of Charity in Albany in 1886 as a home for sick orphans. Today, the Agency offers a comprehensive range of human services to children, families, and adults who have experienced abuse, trauma, or neglect. St. Catherine’s provides residential care and special needs education for children ages 5 to 13, therapeutic foster and kinship care, homeless services at the Marillac Family Shelter and Michael’s House, Pathways to Health, and community-based prevention services, among others. St. Catherine’s Center for Children is one of the oldest and most comprehensive human service providers in the Capital District. To learn more. visit www.st-cath.org.


About Mark Quail https://www.st-cath.org/experts-markquail

About Stephen Bogdan https://www.st-cath.org/post/the-benefits-of-volunteering-can-be-enormous



Foster Care Contact

Melinda Gonzalez

Director of Foster Homes and Kinship Care

Phone: 518-390-0802

Email: mgonzalez@st-cath.org

Web: www.st-cath.org/foster-care


Media Contact

Leah Scott

Director of Marketing and Communications

Phone: 518-453-6716

Email: lscott@st-cath.org

Web: www.st-cath.org/news


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