ORLANDO, Fla. – Reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision that overturns the landmark Roe V. Wade ruling has been swift across Central Florida. As the debate continues about abortion rights, many children’s services agencies are also considering the potential impact on Florida’s childcare system.
“I think a lot of that is still premature. We’re probably like a lot of other industries trying to sort out what might or what might not happen,” said Glen Casel with Embrace Families.
Glen Casel is the CEO of Embrace Families, a foster care agency in Florida. The organization takes a community-based approach to helping children at risk of abuse or neglect.
“On any given day we serve about 3,000 kids,” said Casel. “Many of our kids are still with their families, they’re just working through a crisis going on. It could be financial distress. It could be domestic violence. It could be issues with mental illness, maybe substance misuse.”
Casel says resources are already stretched thin. Caseworkers work hard and are frequently not paid enough, like a lot of people in the social work field. Another challenge is keeping up with Florida as it continues to grow. How resources may need to expand or be used differently in the wake of Roe v. Wade is unclear.
“Will the volume change? I don’t know,” said Casel. “Our job is to make sure we are here to respond to those issues, and so it’s something of course we will watch closely.”
Last year, more than 79,000 women received abortions in Florida at a licensed provider, according to data from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration. More than 6,000 were in Orange and Seminole counties.
While Casel says it is impossible to predict if more kids will enter the foster care system, he says the Embrace Families mission will not change. It’s a sentiment shared by many child service agencies in Central Florida, like One More Child.
“What we’ve seen is the tremendous need there is for children, for moms, for families, and the need is just continuing to grow,” said Jerry Haag, with One More Child.
Jerry Haag, who is the CEO of One More Child, expects his organization will need to help more mothers and children in the wake of Roe V. Wade. Haag says his organization, which is Christ-focused family service center, will need more resources to do it.
“We need additional resources, and those resources are foster families, meal packing parties, backpack meals, so we can get them out to families that are struggling, to moms who are struggling,” said Haag.