To the friends and supporters of Children First, Inc.,
We hope you and your families are safe and well and adjusting to the current state of our world the best you can. As you can imagine, Children First, Inc. has had to adapt and change the way we are doing our work in the community. All of our staff have been working from home since March 13th, an experience that I’m sure many of you can relate to. Despite these troubling circumstances, our staff have found ways to adjust their programs.
Athens-Oconee CASA gained another staff member!
Katie Davis joined the team as an Advocacy Coordinator in March and was a part of the last training class’s graduation ceremony. Unfortunately, her scheduled first day at the office ended up being everyone’s first day working at home. She has taken it all in stride and has already become an important part of our team. Katie, and Emily Dant, have revamped our social media platforms (go check out Athens-Oconee CASA on Facebook and Instagram), reads to kids daily via facebook live, and has already assigned cases to her new volunteers.
We are continuing to advocate for our children in foster care. In fact, every CASA turned in their timesheets for the month of March! CASAs are doing as much, if not more work virtually with their families, than they were before the pandemic hit. We are proud to say that our CASAs are still working hard to advocate for children despite the challenging conditions. Nearly 85 % of our CASAs were able to have contact with their CASA child and families last month, be that by video chat or phone call! All CASA staff are in regular contact with their volunteers and a total of 16 new cases have been assigned since quarantine has started. Our staff are also a part of district stakeholder meetings to determine how we navigate best practice in a world that’s been forced to go virtual.
SafeCare is continuing to provide services virtually with drop offs of supplies and other visiting products when needed. Parents are worried about their ability to finish their case plans and move forward on with their lives. The switch to virtual visits has presented significant challenges as families have varying levels of technological capabilities and internet speed. The National SafeCare Training and Research Center has distributed tips and provided assistance on how to best deliver the curriculum via telephone or video chat, and most of our clients have been able to transition to new platforms. Many of our parents are still going into work and are unable to shelter in place at this time. We received a generous donation of chrome books from Chosen for Life Ministries and Journey Church in Monroe. Due to this donation, our SafeCare staff will be able to host video visits and tele-services during COVID-19 shelter in place. They are continuing to take new referrals and are working hard to navigate the resources that are available for their clients.
SPARC has continued to reach out to their clients and has been providing services to parents over the phone. We are still getting referrals from child support and some “walk-ins” now call-ins. We are returning calls and emails to do intakes and are still providing legitimation assistance through email and regular mail/pickup at the office. We are not able to do any of our community information sessions or programs at court or in individual offices, but all other services are still active
In addition to all the work put in by our three programs, Children First, Inc. has given diapers to families who need them, distributed can goods, wore blue to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention month, and advocated for clients who are doing their best to shelter in place. We are doing the best we can given the circumstances but it has been a challenge. Drug testing labs are being shut down, families are struggling to do televisits with their kids, cases are losing momentum and court has been stalled. Families in Clarke and Oconee County are in need of support more than ever. Those in need of diapers are asked to call 706-613-1922x3 and leave a message. We will return your call and set up a no-contact pick-up.
We encourage you to contribute to our cause any way possible. We are still working to engage families in our community and the courts to promote safe, stable, and nurturing living environments for children. Your continued support during this time will mean all the more to Children First, Inc. and our families as our time of shelter in place continues.
Things you can do:
- Donate diapers, Clorox wipes, Lysol and face masks (Please drop off or mail to 693 N. Pope St. Athens, GA 30601)
Follow us on social media we have regular info sessions and storytelling
Share on social media about our upcoming CASA training and Birthday Party in August
Donate financially to Children First, Inc. https://www.childrenfirst-inc.org/donate.html
Please take a moment to review our 2019/2020 Annual Report, https://www.childrenfirst-inc.org/annual-report.html, which would not have been possible without the support of interns, staff, volunteers and board members. Together we can make it!
Enough about us, how are you doing? How are you handling quarantine? How are you finding the positive in this stressful time? We can’t wait to go back to our home on Pope and hope you are with us on this journey. Please reach out if you are in need of support, resources, or information.
Thank you for all of your continued support. All of your thoughts, prayers and donations are appreciated!
Stay home and stay safe!