Youth Villages addressing the growing need for foster care amid the coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Jul. 15, 2020 at 6:38 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Though the coronavirus pandemic is putting a halt on many things, one thing it’s not stopping is uniting children with forever families.

June 9, 2020 is a day 14-year-old Stephon Hatten will never forget.

"I can't even explain my feelings right now. I'm a lot more than excited," Stephon said.

After being in foster care for several years, Stephon can now call Ms. Johnnie Hatten his mom.

"I see a lot of our young kids, especially our boys end up with the wrong crowd, end up in the wrong situation, and so I said let me see what can I do to help out," Ms. Hatten said.

Ms. Hatten and Stephon started getting to know each other through the Youth Villages foster program in December.

Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic hit -- making it more challenging.

"We are still being innovative and creative to make sure that we engage parents on a webinar base," said Portia Williams, foster parent trainer with Youth Villages.

Williams says though the pandemic has caused foster training to go virtual, there is still a major need for foster parents.

“In the state of Tennessee we have over 8,000 children who need foster homes and we only have equivalent of 4,000 homes available,” Williams said.

After six months of getting to know each other, Stephon and Ms. Hatten made it official.

And although COVID-19 is slowing down some of the fun, you can bet there’s still some friendly competition going on in the Hatten Household.

Stephon says he's grateful for the gift of adoption.

“Now that you’re in a better situation, there’s no need for sorrow... you have joy,” he said.

They both encourage anyone thinking of fostering to open their hearts and homes.

“I would advise everyone to give it a try, and who knows, you could be in my situation with a loving son in my home,” Ms. Hatten Said.

For more information about Youth Villages’ foster care, click here.

For more information about Youth Villages’ adoption programs, click here.

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