Chattanooga's foster care agency adapts during coronavirus pandemic

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Thomas and Shannon Connolly pose for a portrait in front of their home on Thursday, April 9, 2020 in Signal Mountain, Tenn.

What happens to children in state custody when the rest of Tennessee's residents are staying home to prevent spread of the coronavirus?

Chambliss Center for Children's Residential Program, which serves children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect, abandonment or delinquency, is adapting its operations to continue providing support to its foster families as well as young adults in its transitional living facilities during the pandemic.

The biggest change for the agency has been the switch from in-person to virtual visits with its foster families, said Liz Blasbery, Chambliss Center for Children's director of residential services.

When Chambliss places a child in a foster home, a caseworker normally visits the home once within the first 24 hours and three additional times within the first month. Those visits are now conducted virtually through apps such as Zoom and FaceTime, with workers doing separate video chats with the parents and the child, Blasbery said.