Many families found a silver lining having the opportunity to spend more time at home with their children during shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However; shutdowns translated to an increase in drug use and the need for foster parents and adoptive families did not stop.

“We tend to see that when there’s a rise in drug use there’s also a rise in adoptions,” said Vernee Mason, of Children’s Home Society, the agency responsible for overseeing adoptions. Child abuse and neglect reports have been down since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, adoption officials said, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Sherri Gonzales is the regional executive director for Children’s Home Society of Central Florida. “You know our physical offices may be closed, but our services have continued and have never stopped,” Gonzales said.

Children's Home Society helps 10,000 children a year in Central Florida and helps with hundreds of adoptions. Like most essential services during the pandemic, their frontline workers had to make some adjustments to provide parent child interactions, as well as sibling interactions on virtual platforms.

Calls to the abuse hotline, Gonzales said, dropped significantly when the lockdown started in March. “That necessarily really doesn’t mean that that makes kids safer, it really means eyes weren't on the kids, so that’s where we saw fewer reports being called in,” Gonzales said.

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