AP analysis: COVID prolonged foster care stays for thousands

SEATTLE (AP) — An Associated Press analysis shows that thousands of families’ reunifications have been delayed nationwide as the pandemic snarls the foster care system. Courts have delayed cases, gone virtual or temporarily shut down, leading to a backlog. Services such as visitation, therapy and drug testing that parents need to get their kids back also have been limited. The AP found at least 8,700 fewer reunifications during the first nine months of the pandemic compared with the same period the year before. Adoptions slowed to a trickle. Overall, tens of thousands of fewer children left foster care compared with 2019. State officials acknowledge the data but say each case has unique circumstances and that they’ve done their best in unprecedented situations.