How COVID-19 impacts one WNY foster care agency

"Just because all of this is happening, child welfare doesn’t stop"
Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 18:00:21-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Caregiving is in Shari Sullivan’s DNA. For almost 20 years, she’s opened her doors and her heart to fostering children in Western New York, helping more than 30 children along the way.

“I just have portraits if you notice, all through the home, so I’m big on family," Sullivan said

She isn't letting COVID-19 stop her.

"Even though it is a scary moment and it is a scary time that we’re living in right now, this will not deter me from doing what I love to do," Sullivan said.

Right now, Sullivan is fostering a teenager and a younger sibling pair at her Amherst home. She also is a part of the after-hours program where day or night, she can be called to temporarily foster a child.

"The need never stops, just like the hospitals can never close, foster homes can never close," she said.

Nicholas Largo is the program manager of foster care and adoptions at Child and Family Services in Buffalo. Over the last three weeks, he says it has seen slightly higher than average intake.

"Just because all of this is happening, child welfare doesn’t stop. The safety and the permanency that children need to have doesn’t stop being a priority," he said.

Sullivan fosters through child and family services in buffalo. Both Largo and Sullivan agree the need for foster parents is more important now than ever.

"As this goes on longer, it’s going to put more and more stress on families, so making sure that the foster care system…continues to work effectively…is going to be incredibly important," Largo said. He said the program has taken steps to ensure maximum safety. However, Largo said it is preserving as much normalcy as possible during what can be a traumatic time for children.

"We even have a couple of foster parents that expressed interest in being a resource for kids who need a home that does have the virus," Largo said.

COVID-19 is a thought that crosses Sullivan's mind every single day. But she said safety is a priority for CFS and encourages others to open their homes to such a life-changing experience.

"If you really have a heart for this, then do it, then do it," she said.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent with Child and Family Services in Buffalo, click here.