QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- According to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services, there was an increase of more than 2,000 kids entering foster care in the last year.
Advocates said as drug use and domestic violence cases have gone up during the pandemic, so have the number of kids in foster care as they are taken out of those dangerous situations.
Officials with the Child Advocacy Network in Quincy said in the last few months as kids have started going back to school and other activities, mandated reporters like teachers have been recognizing signs of abuse and letting local agencies know.
Now they’re seeing more kids in foster care than ever before.
"Specifically in Adams County, we have over 200 kids that are in foster care right now, we’re actually closer to 300 right now," Danielle Buss, CASA Manager, said. "That’s over 100 more kids than we had last year. And the number continues to increase. Just this week and last week we already got 15 new kids, which is just unheard of really.”
Advocates say because of the financial stress put on families during the pandemic, agencies are expecting the number of kids in the Illinois foster care system to continue to grow over the coming year.
Officials with the Child Advocacy Network said they are here to help anyone who is interested in becoming a foster parent or an advocate for the kids in court, which can make a difference for a child who is currently going through a difficult time in their life.
“At the beginning of a case for us it is about trying to build a report and help the kids know they’re okay and it’s not their fault. The to get to an end point 15 months later and seeing them happy and healthy and back with their parents or being adopted is what is great about this program because you do see the worst of the worst, but then you see the end where things are better.”
Advocates said if you can't become a foster parent, you can become a Court Appointed Special Advocate which is a volunteer position.
In that position, you spend time with children and advocate on their behalf during family court appearances.
If you're interested in information sessions with the Child Advocacy Network to become a foster parent or CASA volunteer, you can CLICK HERE for a full schedule.
You can also reach out to their office at (217) 223-2272.