The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has created stress and anxiety for many Illinois families who were already hurting. Requests from families to help meet basic needs like food, cleaning supplies, and PPE have sharply increased in recent months. With the support of generous donors, our staff have been working around the clock and doing whatever it takes to meet these emerging and intensifying needs.
“We’ve had to make changes and get creative about how we work to serve our families during this pandemic,” said Mike Shaver, Children’s Home & Aid CEO & President. “Staff and supporters have stepped up to ensure a continuum of high-quality services and offerings to meet people’s needs. There’s been tremendous effort – among numerous others – to secure technology to keep families connected and provide safe care for children while parents work, look for work or go to school. Our families are working hard and we, too, will continue to do whatever it takes to help them through this time and beyond.”
In response to the overwhelming demand for crisis support, and with the help of generous individual and foundation donors, Children’s Home & Aid created distribution hubs at several of our sites statewide where families could access supplies on designated “Grab and Go” days. Program staff also do routine porch-side deliveries of supplies to families who cannot reach our sites.
Since March, donor support has allowed us to assist over 3,000 children and families living in nearly 40 counties across Illinois who have been directly impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Generous community support allowed us to:
- Provide 1,200 families with emergency food and supplies;
- Distribute over 31,000 baby-related items, food boxes, educational resources, PPE, and other essential goods;
- Provide utility and rental payment assistance to 300 families statewide;
- Help 900 families in rural and city neighborhoods statewide stay connected by providing technology items including hotspots, cell phones, and tablets.
With no clear end in sight to the crisis, many communities continue to struggle. At MotherHouse Crisis Nursery in Rockford, MotherHouse provided essential items to 110 different families visiting the nursery within a five-hour period and remained open to provide emergency childcare to families.
Lilah, a mother with a 5-month-old baby, began struggling with mental health issues. She and her baby, Aiden, came to MotherHouse when her partner needed to work more hours and Lilah needed help with the additional time alone with the baby.
MotherHouse Supervisor Stephanie Caltagerone says, “We are the only resource of our kind in Rockford, especially during these difficult times. Moms like Lilah get help caring for their children through our crisis nursery services. We also connected her to one of our parent support groups, which are still meeting virtually. Now Lilah also has a lasting network of peers in her community she can turn to for advice and encouragement when parenting gets hard.”
For other essential sites, the crisis has meant finding creative ways to modify programming for our children, often through the power of technology.
At our Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Child & Family residential center in Evanston, around 30 youth between ages 6-15 remained living at the center during the shelter-in place order. Staff got creative to make up for the cancelled field trips. A partnership with Piven Theatre is providing with virtual hip-hop and improv classes to learn new skills. Increased art classes including woodworking was another highlight of the camp. Using basic tools, the children built creative new projects for their living units, including a life-size Jenga set!
We are grateful and proud of the emergency funding provided by our donors including the Illinois COVID Response Fund, Chicago COVID Response Fund, United Way of Rock River Valley, Club Blue Rockford, Oberweiler Foundation, Carol Bernick, Mitzi Freidheim, Grand Victoria Foundation, DeKalb County Community Fund, and many more.
To help meet our families’ ongoing needs, and to support our programs and services, please visit: www.childrenshomeandaid.org/covid.