As I reflect on how my colleagues at Children’s Law Center have responded to the pandemic over the past two and a half weeks, I realize a sad truth: we have lots of experience helping families make hard choices and prioritize urgent needs.
For almost 25 years, day in and day out, we have had to focus on protecting children from the most immediate dangers.
What is different today is that all of us are in danger, and many of the supports our children and families have relied on aren’t available. It puts parents and children into heart wrenching situations:
- Parents are choosing between leaving young, immune-compromised children home alone or bringing them to the grocery store
- Children are at greater risk of abuse as exhausted, financially-strained parents balance unrelenting demands for their time
- Toddlers face potential developmental delays if they miss the narrow window for early intervention services
How is Children’s Law Center responding to this unparalleled crisis?
Two weeks ago, we checked in with every child and family to make sure they knew about the danger and help them make a plan to stay as safe as possible. Many of our clients don’t have access to the same information you and I have, so this was critical work.
Since then we have been working to make sure every family has basic necessities, such as food, medicine and diapers, as well as helping to facilitate mental health treatment by phone and FaceTime.
We are also helping our clients do their part to flatten the curve by keeping them out of the ER and hospital as much as possible. We are coordinating with our medical partners and DC’s Medicaid managed care organizations to identify telemedicine solutions and prescription-by-mail options. Our communications and policy teams are tracking and sharing the testing sites as they become available so that staff can share that information with our clients in real-time.
This pandemic is terrifying. For far too many children and families in the District, the added stress will make their already full plates overflow. All of this makes me realize just how much more fighting we will have ahead of us during this health crisis – and once it is over.
In a time of social distancing, I know it can be hard to know how our neighbors down the street are doing – let alone families living across the city. That is why, in the weeks and months ahead, I will be asking my colleagues to share directly with you what they are seeing and hearing firsthand from DC’s children and families, and what our teams are doing to help them.
As this crisis continues to unfold, please consider giving your time or money to help us continue fighting for those who need it most. DC’s children and families need us now more than ever.
Please stay home, stay healthy and stay in touch,