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Austin nonprofit creates virtual support groups for foster families amid COVID-19 pandemic

The groups will help these families manage the additional stressors the coronavirus may put on them.

AUSTIN, Texas — Families in the foster care system already face everyday challenges. A coronavirus pandemic only brings more stressors into those families' lives.

In an effort to help ease those stressors, a Texas nonprofit has created virtual support groups to help families navigate these tough times.

Foster Village is offering free virtual groups for all caregivers. This includes one virtual group for all caregivers, one for dads and one for moms.

They will also organize virtual family gatherings if a foster family wants to connect their child with their biological parent. 

"Having been foster parents, we knew the isolation and sense of disconnect was really a high factor in the burnout rate for foster parents, so we wanted to create that village of support," said Chrystal Smith, the founder of the nonprofit. 

Smith said stressors caused by the coronavirus can lead foster parents to burn out quicker.

The support groups will allow families to share resources with one another and open up about the questions they have or the challenges they are facing.

"Children have been taken from their homes and placed in an entirely new environment and, sometimes, their weekly visits with the familiar -- their biological parents -- is the only comfort. But social distancing has made that impossible," the nonprofit stated.

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Smith plans to invite therapists and guest speakers to join the sessions, as well as organize therapeutic activities. 

These support groups will be hosted via Zoom calls. 

In addition, Foster Village has created a Facebook group called “Virtual Village for Foster & Kinship Caregivers” to allow caregivers to connect and share resources daily with other caregivers. This page connects local families to others not just in Texas, but around the globe. This is something that hadn’t been happening regularly prior to the crisis, Smith said. 

"It just creates a sense of commodore, and we say the 'get it factor,' just that they are navigating the same thing at the same time," Smith said.

WATCH: How you can help foster care children amidst coronavirus pandemic

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