YORK COUNTY, Pa. — When the Covid-19 pandemic started, Merakey Behavioral Health Foster Care in York County saw a decline in the number of foster kids who needed a home.
That was primarily due to schools switching from in person learning to remote.
"A lot of our teachers and coaches do report abuse and do help our communities help our children,” said Amanda Lyons, Program Manager for Merakey.
Now that some schools are back to in-person learning, the need for foster parents is on the rise.
According to data from York County Human Services, last September Merakey received 33 referrals for foster kids but they were only able to place five of those children in a foster home.
Now, Merakey receives ten referrals a day for foster kids who need a home. That's a load Lyons said they can't quite handle.
"Unfortunately when we don't have foster homes to support these kids either they are going outside of their community possibly Harrisburg, Lancaster or even further,” she said.
Even worse, Lyons said kids over the age of 12 could end up in a shelter.
“It's very sad that sometimes we have kids that can't sleep in a family home at night just because there are not enough foster parents available,” Lyons said.
An organization that primarily recruits foster parents via in person events, Lyons said it's been an adjustment recruiting during Covid-19.
At this point, she said they need all of the loving parents they can get, “We really need our community to step up and take care of our youth that are struggling."
Foster children in York County aren't the only ones in need of a loving home, this is a dire need throughout Pennsylvania. Anyone interested in providing a home for a child can call Merakey at 833-629-2220 or the York County office at 717-817-8264.