MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The number of children entering foster care in Minnesota has dropped significantly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, yet the number of inquiries about becoming a foster parent has doubled, state officials say.

Kim Young, a foster care specialist with MN Adopt, which works with the state to find permanent homes for foster children, said the interest in fostering is especially encouraging given the hard economic times people may be suffering, a local news outlet reports.

The state says there is a particular need for homes willing to care for teenagers, who make up more than one-quarter of the youth in foster care. People who do foster children receive monthly stipends to help offset the costs of daily needs, food, clothing and transportation.

The Human Services Department reported there has been about a 33% reduction in the weekly average number of children entering foster care since the executive order to close schools was put in place.

“We usually see a decline in reports when school is not in session because most of our reports come from mandated reporters,” said Assistant Commissioner Nikki Farago.

State officials don’t know if the need will grow when children return to school or how many more children are in danger due to COVID-related stress in the home.

On average, 10,000 children are in foster care in Minnesota and 900 children are waiting for permanent homes, Young said.

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