NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The White House confirmed Tuesday that communities of color and the poor are getting hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and foster care are among those falling through the cracks.
“It impacts their survival rate and it impacts how they’re able to handle this crisis,” said Shantell Lewis, a foster care recruiter with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.
Lewis works every day to find homes for some of New York City’s 7,000 children in the foster system.
She says the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder to keep these kids safe and healthy.
“Most of our children come from low-income backgrounds,” Lewis told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “Sometimes they’re staying between different places, they’re taking the subway, so they’re putting themselves out there where they’re at risk for contracting the disease.”
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As evidence mounts that COVID-19 hot spots are often minority communities, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is calling for an even stricter lockdown.
“We need to get a week or two where we restrict movement and lessen construction, so we don’t have people sardined in trains,” Williams said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams says officials should make a greater effort to reach people who do not speak English.
“We can’t think we are talking to people when in fact we are talking to ourselves,” he said.
“I do think there’s strategies we might be able to innovate to try and figure out where we can get particularly more education efforts and more multi-lingual education efforts to communities that need them,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
On Tuesday, the White House acknowledged the coronavirus is disproportionately impacting African-Americans in particular.
“When you look at the predisposing conditions that lead to a bad outcome with coronavirus … they are just those very co-morbidities that are unfortunately disproportionately prevalent in the African-American population … There’s nothing we can do about it right now except to try and give them the best possible care,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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In the city, social workers worry about this pandemic’s lasting impact on foster kids and those on the verge of adulthood.
“It’s going to be even harder for us to get people to open their home and take children in,” Lewis said.
Rita Soronen is president of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which works with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.
“For those youth that aged out of care, got themselves to college, and now colleges have closed down … we have children at risk of being homeless because they simply have no place to be,” Soronen said.
Disease may not discriminate, but its effects are hitting some communities harder than others.