This past spring, as the community shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Family Based Services Director Julie Dvorsky and her staff began working overtime to provide critically needed support for the 142 families served by our Foster Care and Intact Family services programs.
“A lot of our families were hit hard by the pandemic and needed our services more than ever,” says Dvorsky. “We had elderly foster grandparents who were struggling to care for multiple generations in their homes and intact families that had already been pushed to the breaking point by a variety of stressors before the pandemic made life exponentially more difficult.”
And these stressors can be a contributing factor to abuse or neglect.
According to childwelfare.gov, in federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018, about 4.3 million reports were made nationally to child protective services concerning the safety and well-being of approximately 7.8 million children. Many of these cases were identified at schools and doctor’s offices. While shelter-in-place regulations were active in Illinois, these sources of identifying neglect or trauma weren’t readily available, leaving children vulnerable.
The role of Hephzibah’s Intact Family Services department became even more important as they were on the front-line of helping at-risk families manage new trials and tribulations.
As these vulnerable families coped with the additional hardships caused by the coronavirus—from unemployment to rising food bills to school closures—our Family-Based Services team did whatever was necessary to help them stay safe and strong, including:
- Grocery shopping and deliveries for elderly or physically vulnerable parents and guardians
- Grocery store gift cards to feed financially strapped families
- Face masks to keep everyone safe
- Chromebooks for virtual learning
- Ventra cards for public transportation
- Weekly caseworker check-ins
- Virtual therapy sessions
- Virtual support groups for foster parents
- Zoom yoga and other virtual activities for foster families
- Amazon deliveries of sports equipment, musical instruments, arts and crafts supplies, activity kits and household necessities
- Virtual visits with volunteer Hephzibah mentors
- Birthday boxes with party supplies based on a theme selected by the child
Hephzibah is committed to helping children thrive and families flourish. As fall and winter approach and flu season gets underway, it’s possible that our vulnerable families may need to quarantine again. If you’re interested in donating an item from our “Shelter in Place Wish list” please click here.