HALIFAX -- Self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, including people involved in the foster care system.

Wendy Bungay is the director of placement services for Nova Scotia’s Department of Community Services. She says there is an incredible team working together to support kids in care.

“We are working hard together to make sure those children’s needs are met. That’s our frontline staff, social workers, case aids, our foster parents, and other caregivers,” says Bungay.

Bungay says her team has received screening tools to determine whether there are risks around COVID-19 at individual homes.

“For the most part we have suspended face-to-face contact, unless it is absolutely necessary, but are exploring all kinds of different ways to make sure that contact still occurs and actually, it is probably happening more frequently than it would have otherwise. By telephone, by FaceTime, by Skype, by Zoom, we’re learning new things as this evolves,” says Bungay.

“We still are responding to emergencies as we need to, so those social workers are out there doing what they need to do, with the support of our policing services if necessary.”

The Federation of Foster Families of Nova Scotia is also helping to support foster families.

“That’s up and running on a continual basis to meet those foster parent needs. Foster parents are reaching out to their social workers and people are being creative. They are sharing ideas on how to keep kids entertained, they are reaching out to each other by telephone, or by FaceTime, all kinds of really innovative ways of keeping kids focused, and those adults entertained as well,” says Bungay.

“I think that it reassures people that we are all in this together and that we have a very strong network of support. So that foster care parent receiving a phone call from a social worker reinforces the fact that we all care about that child, we all care about that foster family.”

Bungay wants the public to know that her team is doing their part to make sure they are safe and healthy.

“So that if we do have to knock on a door, if we do have to have a conversation that involves face-to-face, our social workers are making sure that they are safe to be able to do that,” says Bungay.

“I want to reassure the public that if someone is reaching out to them to have a conversation because we’ve received a referral, that we are practicing good precautions and we are not going to place them at risk by having that contact.”

Bungay says she is proud of how her team has responded during this difficult time.

“Those social workers on the frontline, our case aids, our foster parents, our residential youth care workers, they’ve risen to this occasion and put those children front and centre. I couldn’t ask for more.”