Photo courtesy of Kate Yonkura
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kate Yonkura and her husband have raised foster children through The Buckeye Ranch for the past four years. They have four kids of their own, and foster two young children.
She says these are challenging times.
“Less access to children to see they're struggling, and also higher struggles for families who might have been vulnerable before the pandemic. They've certainty experienced job losses and, you know, isolation,” said Yonkura.
The Buckeye Ranch recently held a virtual telethon to support its programs, which include mental health services, child welfare, and beyond.
Typically, they raise half a million dollars each year, but without the traditional three-day event, those fundraising numbers are down.
The funds are used for basic needs for the 5,000 children and young adults in 50 counties across Ohio each year.
“We're seeing that The Buckeye Ranch has an increased need for services for our kids who are dealing with depression and anxiety, who are having some mental health concerns,” said CEO Vickie Thompson-Sandy.
And although CARES Act funding has allowed rental assistance for Columbus and parts of the state, many questions remain about housing stability and the looming eviction crisis.
Thompson-Sandy says housing instability can manifest itself in children through aggression, among other issues.
“They're more likely to have extreme obesity. They're more likely to have mental health challenges. Those are all things that we as a society are going to pay for,” said Thompson-Sandy.
But she believes there are some short-term investments we can make as a community that would pay off in the long run.
“Continuing the pause on evictions would help families to move through these unprecedented times. When families live in stable communities, that those kids are more likely to attend college and they earn significantly more,” said Thompson-Sandy.
For Yonkura, she says if you've ever considered being a foster parent, now is the perfect time.
“See if it might be a good fit for your family and just know that if you choose The Buckeye Ranch, they will walk with you hand-in-hand and you don't do this alone,” she said.
If you would like to foster a child or donate to the cause, visit The Buckeye Ranch website.