TERRELL, Texas — A Terrell family says the needs of a 3-month-old foster child were more important than their potential COVID-19 exposure risk — a message of encouragement for the untold number of children in need of a foster family and also to those considering opening their home to fostering.
Jacob and Leah Simmons, of Terrell, Texas, have been foster parents through Jonathan's Place in Garland since 2018, Jacob tells inForney.com.
In July, they received a call for an emergency temporary placement for a 3-year-old child identified in this story as "Little Man," due to the child's foster status.
The only problem, Little Man had recently tested positive for COVID-19.
"We were OK with us getting COVID more so than him not being loved," Jacob said in a recent interview with WFAA's Teressa Woodard. "If it comes down to that, we’ll take him every time."
The Simmons quickly devised a plan that would allow Jacob to quarantine and care for Little Man upstairs in their residence while Leah cared for their 2-year-old daughter downstairs.
"After two weeks, he was released from needing to be quarantined and tested negative not long after," Jacob says.
The family remained COVID-19 negative and, while Little Man continues to grow, he will be monitored for any lingering COVID-19 signs or symptoms.
As with any child in foster care, the first goal is to reunite the child with their families but, the Simmons say, they stand ready to offer a forever home to a foster child should there be a need.
"We just hope that our story helps others to see the need for fostering, to give them courage to do so, and to help them see that it is about these kids and what they need, more than it is about us," Jacob said.
"We have some really truly amazing people and families who open up their homes to foster children and it says a lot about [the Simmons] that they would open up their home to this child knowing about the positive COVID test," Jonathan's Place CEO Allicia Graham Fry tells inForney.com.
Jonathan's Place established their Foster Care and Adoption Program in 2006 after recognizing that there was a shortage of more than 3,000 foster care beds in Dallas County alone. Now, the program serves to recruit, train, and support foster and foster-to-adopt families with dedicated case managers and 24-hour emergency support.
"Families in our program have access to supplies, resources and training to assist them in providing care for the children in their homes," read a Facebook post from the agency. "Right now, there is a child in need of the support and love only you can give."
Fry also commended the staff at Jonathan's Place as they take in children, due to a number of different circumstances, often times without knowing whether or not they have tested positive for COVID-19, their backgrounds, and some times under immediate emergency circumstances, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.
Jonathan's Place not only offers foster care services to the North Texas region, but operates programs for emergency shelter for children removed from their homes, a long-term girl's therapeutic program, a transitional living program for woman aging out of foster care, operates a RESET program for victims of child sex trafficking, and is a Safe Place affiliate as an outreach program partnered with QT convenience stations and DART to provide access to an immediate help and a safe place for youth in crisis.
To learn more about becoming a licensed foster or foster-to-adopt parent, visit Jonathan's Place's website, here: https://www.jpkids.org/our-programs/foster-care/
More on this story from WFAA: