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Number of kids in and out of foster care during pandemic similar to past years

Marathon County numbers from March through May of 2020 and past three years show no significant difference in amount of kids entering and existing out-of-home care
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 6:20 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -

The numbers from Marathon County Social Services Department show that kids entering and exiting foster care are not significantly different during the pandemic compared to past years.

Looking at the number of children entering and exiting the foster care system in the county for the months of March, April, and May for 2017-2020, there is actually an overall downward trend in both categories.

The number of children entering and exiting foster care in Marathon County did not show a significant difference during the pandemic compared to previous years.
The number of children entering and exiting foster care in Marathon County did not show a significant difference during the pandemic compared to previous years.(WSAW Emily Davies, Marathon County Social Services Department)

“Many of the children that have entered care between March-May 2020 have been a result of concerns for parental drug use resulting in their children being unsafe (Neglect),” child protective services supervisor, Christa Jensen said.

NewsChannel 7 as reported previously that parental drug use has been a big cause of kids entering the foster care system prior to the pandemic.

Wisconsin as a whole currently has more than 7,100 kids in out-of-home care, with about 70% of those children ranging in age from 0-11. So far this year, neglect is the primary reason for a child to be removed from a home. Caretaker drug use, which would be categorized as neglect, is the highest specific cause.

Jensen added that the county has not experienced difficulties in getting necessities for kids during the pandemic. Thanks to services like NOAH and Rebecca’s Closet, she said they have had access to everything families have needed. A 2019 grant the department received in the fall, she said also assisted to keep foster parents in the program and some funds were used to purchase Wal-Mart gift cards for families taking emergency placements to ensure they could access items children may have needed.

Rebecca’s Closet partners with human services agencies to get people in need connected to clothing, which are largely collected through donations throughout the year.

“Last year alone, we filled over 667 requests, so those are all to families that go out within the community,” Sarah Tifft, the United Way of Marathon County Affinity Group Director said.

They have not taken clothing donations since the pandemic hit Wisconsin, but they have had enough donations to get foster families what they need.

“We want to make sure that those kids are feeling as at home as they can and if it’s a pair of sneakers and a shirt that helps them feel more secure, that’s really what we try to do,” she urged.

Copyright 2020 WSAW. All rights reserved.

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