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Foster care group expands Mid-Ohio Valley presence

PARKERSBURG — A national group that advocates for foster children is expanding its presence in the region.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the need remains for more foster families to place children, according to Denise Giangiulio McGinty with the National Youth Advocate Program in West Virginia. The agency has a location in Parkersburg.

“We’re still getting calls to place youth into foster care even during this time,” she said.

More than 7,100 children are in foster care in West Virginia, a number that has not declined or has shown signs of declining, according to McGinty.

“That grows every day,” she said.

More foster families are needed to meet the need, particularly so brothers and sisters are not separated from each other, McGinty said. Young children separated from their siblings are emotionally affected, she said.

“It’s really hard on them when they lose their siblings,” McGinty said.

The problem is national, too, she said. Around the nation, more than half a million children are in foster homes, and that number has been growing, too, she said.

“There is a big need,” McGinty said.

Applications can be prepared online, from home, at their own pace and schedule, she said. Applicants will be able to adhere to any stay-at-home orders to prevent the transmission of the virus.

“They are not going to have to do anything face to face during the pandemic,” she said.

The process to apply is available on the Facebook page of the National Youth Advocate Program in West Virginia and at www.nyap.org, she said.

Upon being licensed, they receive around the clock support and customer service from the professionals at the National Youth Advocate Program.

However, the organization recognizes people may be apprehensive about making such an important decision in these trying times when everyone’s mind is on the virus, McGinty said. The idea is to plan ahead and have applications ready for review, she said.

“This is kind of an unknown time,” McGinty said. “People are afraid of making important decisions.”

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

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