Janelle Bronniman grabs her notepad and pen, puts on a cloth face covering, and walks toward a patio—the new location for her home visits with foster parents Kristina and Beth.
COVID-19 has changed the world we live in, and not surprisingly, the way our foster care program operates. Caseworkers are getting creative with the ways they reach their foster parents and foster youth. Social distancing is extremely important, but so is checking in with foster care youth and parents who have a lot on their plates right now.
“Our children and our families need us more now than ever. Because that need is there and our goal is to serve, our treatment foster care workers and families have adapted well to the new normal,” said Trista Thompson, foster care supervisor.
DePaul caseworkers are now meeting their families in driveways, backyards, and in Kristina and Beth’s case, covered patios. They are working with foster parents to make sure their foster children understand what’s going on, and understand that no matter what happens, DePaul will be there for them.
“DePaul and Janelle have been amazing supports for us. We are receiving great help and feedback, allowing us to just focus on our girls and their needs,” said Kristina.
Kristina and Beth’s foster kids are thrilled to see Janelle. They do their very best to keep a safe distance, but still find time to dance around and show off their stuffed animals. It’s easy to see that this is still an adjustment for them, for all our foster families and foster children. But even at a young age, they recognize this is their new normal for now.
Like many of her coworkers, Janelle is taking notes and asking questions from a safe distance. She keeps the covering on her face during the whole visit. And this face covering is special; it was made for her by Kristina.
It is an act of kindness like this—a foster parent helping her caseworker do her job safely—that perfectly illustrates what we here at DePaul are holding onto during this time. DePaul will always find a way to be there for its families. And our families will always find a way to make us feel appreciated.
In this time of great uncertainty, there are no greater gifts than kindness, support, and generosity.