For our collective health and well-being, we must adhere to the requirements of social distancing. Physical distance, however, does not mean we need to remain socially disconnected or isolated. In fact, individuals, families, and communities can maintain the one thing we all need right now…social connection!
Connect with others—right now is a great time to connect with family and community members near and far.
- Call/Skype/FaceTime/Zoom with family members
- Write letters to/create cards for relatives (Perhaps an overdue thank you note for that really nifty gift you received?)
- Host a virtual dinner
- View PCA America’s list of activities
Access to Services
- General support for caregivers please call 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373). You may also view these resources 24/7 by www.PCAGeorgiaHelpline.org
- Federally Qualified Health Center, or other community-based resource, please call the Georgia Family Healthline at 1-800-300-9003.
- Assistance with essential services (finding food, paying bills), contact 211.
- Food Insecurity and Meal Services
- Online Access to Unemployment Services, small business support
- Resources in Spanish and for immigrants
DFCS encourages families to access self-service options online during this period. Self-service options include:
- Apply for Food Stamp and Medicaid Benefits: gateway.ga.gov (verification documents can be uploaded and case status info is available for all benefits)
- Download an Application: https://dfcs.georgia.gov/services
- Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Visit: https://www.connectebt.com/gaebtclient or call: 888-421-3281 for updates
- Those without internet access can contact the DFCS Customer Contact Center at 877-423-4746 for additional information or to request a paper application. Applications and any required verification can be mailed back to your local county DFCS office. County office locations are available online at https://dfcs.georgia.gov/locations.
The Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line provides free and confidential assistance to callers needing emotional support or resources information as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emotional Support Line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and others who have received training in crisis counseling. Hours of operation: 8 am – 11 pm. Call 866.399.8938. See attached flyer for additional resources information.
Childcare Support for Early Learners and School Age Children Who are Distant Learning:
SOLVE scholarships being offered by DECAL to support onsite online learning for working families of children ages 5-12.
To locate childcare that is currently open call 1-877-ALL-GA-KIDS (1-877-255-4254) or go online to https://www.qualitycareforchildren.org/
Addressing Children’s Fears
Parents can do a lot to answer children’s fears. Here are the facts as we know them: although COVID-19 is certainly frightening, it is very unusual for children or otherwise healthy parents under 60 to become very sick. Therefore, you can honestly answer your children’s fears by saying that you’re not worried about them or yourselves. This is especially important because public health experts predict most of us will be infected before the pandemic is over—but the vast majority of people will have only a mild illness. Should the day come when you or your children are infected with COVID-19, they will be prepared and less frightened.
Sometimes, children may worry but don’t know how to bring up the topic. Starting the conversation with simple, open-ended questions: “What have you heard about Coronavirus?” “What are you most worried about?” will help key into your child’s thought and concerns.
You can find more insight from Dr. Bob Sege on love in the time of Coronavirus here.
Resources for parents for how to talk with children about COVID-19. These strategies emphasize reassurance of child fears and anxieties, modeling proper hygiene, establishing routines in the case of school closures, and monitoring media use:
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), American Academy of Pediatrics
- “How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus, ” New York Times
- “What Parents Need to Know About Coronavirus,” New York Times
- How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus, PBS Kids
- Tips for Families: Talking About the Coronavirus, Zero to Three
- Coronavirus and Parenting: What You Need to Know Now, NPR
- Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus, Child Mind Institute
- Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- How to Prepare for Extended School Closings—and Not Lose Your Mind, Upworthy
- Healthy Families America website
Age-appropriate resources for children (e.g., songs and videos) regarding proper hygiene, illness, and visits to medical professionals:
- Coping After a Disaster (Ready Wrigley Books), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Available in Spanish)
- Ready Wrigley Prepares for Flu Season, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Available in Spanish)
- A Germ-fighting Superhero, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood/PBS Kids
- Step-by-step Handwashing with Elmo, Sesame Street/PBS Kids
- The Man with the Yellow Hat Explains How Germs Work, Curious George/PBS Kids
- Online Learning Resources and Podcasts for kids
Resources and information regarding the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on under-resourced communities and communities of color and ways in which communities can create “population-level” strategies to limit the contact and spread of COVID-19:
Child abuse and neglect (CAN) is not caused by a single factor but by multiple factors related to the individual, family, community, and society at large. Environments that are violent, lack accessible and effective community resources, and are disproportionately affected by poverty or unemployment are variables that contribute to child abuse and neglect. Georgia CAN statistics.
We expect to see a rise in abuse and neglect reports during this economically and socially difficult time. Calls to the National Parent Helpline for families in crisis have spiked 30% in the past weeks. These calls are coming from parents stressed about child care, food insecurity and other issues related to their new circumstances. Risk factors for child abuse and neglect – including parental stress, economic instability and housing insecurity – increase in situations like this. “School and workplace closings greatly increase stress in parents’ lives,” said Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, adding that children with existing behavioral problems are prone to act out as their parents’ tension levels rise. Read more here.
Alternative Ideas for CAP Month
In a time of social distancing, we encourage you to keep the messages of child abuse prevention month AND that of social connectedness strong in alternative ways! Reaching out to neighbors and families through phone, text, and FaceTime, even just to offer emotional support is important!
- Face-to-face from afar: The next best thing to in-person interaction is video chat, because facial cues, body language and other nonverbal forms of communication are important for bonding. When possible, opt for video over messaging or calling and play around with doing what you would normally do with others.
- One-minute kindness: receiving a direct message or e-mail with a genuine compliment or expression of gratitude is more personal and longer lasting—without taking much more time. After all, we need a little extra kindness to counter the stress and uncertainty of the coronavirus.
- As you delay or cancel an event, have an online drive (collect donations or share an amazon wish list)- many children and families face additional hardship due to school closings (access to free and reduced lunch, additional burden of childcare costs)
- Facebook live your pinwheel planting, and encourage others to virtually share how they are spreading awareness and helping families during CAP month.
Georgia’s COVID-19 Hotline
If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic, or your local federally qualified healthcare center. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.