It’s a tough time for the children and families served by Children’s Home & Aid’s Southern offices in Metro East. The double whammy of the COVID-19 virus and the resulting economic downturn are having a huge impact on families who were already very stressed before the virus hit.
Fortunately, our generous community of donors is stepping up to help!
“We are able to keep this essential work going thanks to the commitment of our donors,”
said Renae Storey, Regional Vice President. “We couldn’t do it without them,” she adds.
Children’s Home & Aid serves 21,000 children and families annually in Metro East, and our work has not stopped.
“All of our services – from child welfare, to home visiting and youth services – are now happening virtually. We’re checking in on every youth and family we serve, with many expressing fear about having basic needs. We are delivering diapers, groceries, and baby formula to help them through these trying times. We’re also providing ways to cover transportation to doctor visits and other necessary services,” explains Renae.
Our home visiting staff work with families that have experienced abuse and neglect. The social isolation coupled with the very real fear of falling ill and concerns about their jobs further stress already fragile families. Our home visitors are devising ways to connect with families – from posting activities on YouTube to more frequent video chats and calls – so they feel less alone and realize that there are people who care about them. By building these social connections, families are built up, too, and children are safer.
Children’s Home & Aid plays a long-standing role in helping low-income families find and pay for childcare through the state’s subsidized child care program. Since child care centers have closed from the Governor’s Executive Order, our Child Care Assistance Program staff have regrouped, helping child care providers in seven counties offer emergency child care to essential workers.
Many of the children and families in our Southern Region with behavioral health, substance abuse and domestic abuse issues have heightened needs at this time. Staff in Metro East partner with more than 100 police departments throughout the counties we serve to provide crisis intervention services. While they stand ready to respond in person, they have been able to provide these services remotely in most cases.
Youth in our Redeploy Program, which works with first-time juvenile offenders, also face employment loss. “Many of our older youth work in the restaurant industry and have lost their part-time jobs. Our Juvenile Justice Specialists are working with them to conduct online job searches as well as video interview prep,” explains Jamie Ellison, Redeploy Program Manager.
Linda White, Director of Child and Family Counseling adds, “One youth in our Redeploy program shared that he is even more committed now to moving his life forward, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Since social distancing mandates took effect, he continues meeting weekly with his Juvenile Justice Specialist via telephone and video sessions. “He said that even though all of the other supports and services stopped during the pandemic, he knew his Juvenile Justice Specialist would still be there for him,” Linda explains.
To call for help or to make a referral, you may leave a message on our general mailbox and we will return your call the same day.
For parent and child care support:
Stronger Beginnings for Families 800-467-9200
Child Care Assistance Program 800-847-6770, Ext. 390
Child Care Resource & Referral 800-467-9200, Ext. 360
For youth services support:
East St. Louis: 618.874.0216
Granite City: 618.452.8900