TIGARD, Ore. — The pandemic has been difficult for most families — but add fostering to the mix, and that adds up to even more stress and uncertainty.
“You've got doctor visits, you have biological family visits, you have lawyer visits, but then – can you do it virtually? Do you have to go in?” said Allie Roth, the founder and president of With Love, a nonprofit based out of Tigard that supports foster kids and families in Oregon.
“We're here to serve foster families with the items they need and also give them positive experiences to hang out with their children,” she said.
One of those foster parents is Cayla Van Loo. For the past two years, her family has opened their home to six different foster care placements.
“Currently have a 2-year-old who we're in the process of adopting,” Van Loo said. “It can be stressful, but it's so worth it. And it's been such an incredible experience to shape my family.”
Van Loo says that the support they receive from With Love is one of the reasons her family is able to say yes to fostering.
“When we get a call, 'Hey, we have a 12-month old baby girl. Can you take her in an hour?' I know that I don't have a stroller, I don't have a car seat, I don't have diapers or clothes, but I know, without a shadow of a doubt that I can put a request in, and With Love will come through,” she said.
During the pandemic, the need for support has exploded. Roth is concerned about what comes next.
“Being aware that these kids, quite a few of them, haven't had the eyes on them that they normally would, or that consistent routine,” Roth said. “We are concerned that there is going to be a surge of kids coming into care.”
With Love gave over $2 million worth of items away in 2020 and grew 20% in the pandemic.
“We're just responding to a need in the community,” Roth said.
On any given day, there are roughly 5,000 to 7,000 kids in foster care in Oregon. With numbers expected to increase, Roth knows more foster families will lean on With Love.
“With Love wants to stop and say, 'We see you. You’re so important. You’re cared about,' and we want to help rewrite that story,” Roth said.
The state needs more foster parents. If you are interested in learning more, visit the Oregon DHS website.
“If I can shoulder some of that weight for them, then I'm going to do it absolutely – it's not a question,” Van Loo said. “It is hard, but you do it anyway and it’s worth it.”