(WKBN) – As businesses and organizations continue to make adjustments through Ohio’s stay-at-home order, Northeast Ohio Adoption Services is working remotely with kids waiting for homes.
NOAS is an organization that helps find homes for children waiting to be fostered or adopted.
“We train the families, so we recruit families who are interested in kind of helping these children who came into care through no fault of their own,” said Cheryl Tarantino, executive director of NOAS.
The Bridges program through NOAS works with young adults 18-21 who have aged out of the system. It helps them transition into adulthood with support and resources for food, housing and schooling.
The organization also has Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters who work to try and pair children with family members, old school teachers or family friends, anyone who may be able to take the child in.
Tarantino says now is a challenging time, since many home placements of children have come to a pause.
In Ohio, more than 1,600 children are in the foster care system and more than 2,600 are waiting to be adopted.
Still, she says they are continuing their training courses virtually for those wanting to become certified to adopt and foster.
They are also taking advantage of other ways to communicate with the kids.
“We had one worker who had some special cookies made that had all kind of COVID-related hope messages. Sent them to a foster home that has three kids that we’re working with,” she said.
One concern Tarantino has is that while children are not in school or leaving their houses as much, many of them may be subjected to abuse.
“When you’re in a time of high stress, high trauma, crisis, a lot of families don’t do well with that. You tend to see an uprise in domestic violence, child abuse, sexual trafficking,” she said.
April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month. Tarantino says now is especially an important time to pay attention to warning signs.
“Obviously, there’s markings. Obviously, if you see a parent abusing, there’s verbal abuse, there’s physical abuse. You’ll see, a lot of times, just a change in the child’s personality,” Tarantino said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in seven children experienced child abuse in the past year.
Children who are abused and neglected may suffer from physical injuries such as cuts, bruises or broken bones, as well as emotional and psychological problems, such as impaired socio-emotional skills or anxiety.
To report a possible case of child abuse, call the Children Services in your county:
- Mahoning County: 330-941-8888
- Trumbull County: 330-372-2010
- Columbiana County: 330-424-1471
- Mercer County: 724-662-2703
Anyone who is interested in beginning training classes or the adoption/fostering process can contact NOAS at 1-800-686-6627 ext. 126 or on their website.