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Spike in children being removed from their homes during this pandemic

Roanoke County seeing uptick in drug abuse, domestic violence

COVID is stressing families and the foster care system.
COVID is stressing families and the foster care system.

ROANOKE, Va. – COVID is stressing families and the foster care system.

“We have had many families be unable to keep their kids safe in our community,” said Ben Jones, a Roanoke County Department of Social Services family services supervisor.

Jones says they’ve had a spike in how many children are being removed from their families.

“We’ve had more removals in the past 60 days than we had in the year prior. It’s a lot,” said Jones who adds drug abuse and domestic violence are up. “Families are running out of coping skills at a faster rate than we’ve seen in the past. We have a deluge of mandated reports, appropriately, well done being this is necessary to keep our children safe but it has severely strained our CPS and CPS ongoing professionals because we went from having fewer but more intense work to having intense work across the board. There’s a lot of work to be done, we are proud of our responsibility, we’re proud of how we’re able to respond to it but it is hard work right now.”

Across the line in Roanoke City, child protective services supervisors Donald Goss and Beth Fletcher were worried about domestic abuse calls going up but that didn’t happen.

“Most of the complaints we do get are in the category of physical neglect where parents are not meeting some need that’s required of them and for the care of their children. Either supervision, shelter, appropriate food, hygiene for children those types of things,” said Goss.

“You never know what you’re walking into when you walk up to a house so it’s just worker’s safety, family safety, child safety. It is kind of stressful,” said Fletcher.

At the beginning of the pandemic, they were wearing protective suits with foot coverings and other PPE.

“We weren’t sure what to expect really. We knew we had to continue to keep working,” said Goss. “At the beginning of COIVD we weren’t exactly sure what or how bad things were going to be.”

Now, they’re wearing eye protection, masks and gloves. There was a brief drop off in calls but now Roanoke City is back up to about 200-250 calls a month. As the calls continue, it’s taking a toll on social workers.

“Many of them are emotionally traumatized by what we’ve been through, the pressure of what we’re doing, the pressure of the responsibility and the inability to control so many things that we used to have control over,” said Jones.

If you have questions about foster care/adoption, contact DePaul Community Resources at https://www.depaulcr.org/30daysofhope/.

There are more than 700 children who are ready for foster to adoption in Virginia. They are ready to find a permanent and loving forever family. 10 News is profiling one child who needs a home every day at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in 30 Days of Hope. The children are all ages and races and were put into foster care due to no fault of their own. 2020 marks the fourth year 10 News is doing this series.


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You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m.