The COVID-19 epidemic is unlike anything we’ve seen before, and the challenges facing families are immense, widespread, and at times frightening. Now more than ever, The Family Tree is focused on reaching parents and children where they are, using every available tool and communication channel we can leverage.
With schools closed, children at home, and parents under an increasing amount of stress from not only the spread of the Corona Virus, but also the economic concerns facing the country, families need support and they need it now. Experts agree that the situation is likely to increase cases of child abuse and neglect, making this support especially urgent.
Following the directive from Governor Larry Hogan prohibiting the number of people in public gatherings, The Family Tree closed our offices and began transitioning our programs to virtual learning and tele-counseling platforms. The Family Tree is now delivering targeted resources, workshops, blog posts, online trainings, one-on-one tele-counseling, and more directly to parents from our program and services professionals. Here is an overview:
- Our 24-hour Parenting HelpLine will continue to be taking calls from families, along with our online chat. These include not only emotional support and guidance during times of stress but also a clearinghouse of vital resources within the community.
- Parenting Education staff are working on delivering classes using Zoom technology. We continue to host weekly “Ask An Expert” live chat sessions where parents can get any of their questions answered.
- Our home visiting programs are having “virtual” visits using Skype, Webinar, FaceTime or Zoom. They are maintaining contact with our families weekly including texts, calls and even periodic home visits when feasible.
- Community Engagement staff are working on creating regular webinars for professionals.
- Volunteers are helping us with tasks they can complete from their homes, including researching grants, assisting with social media posts, and researching and writing blog posts.
- Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center is implementing online training sessions and webinars. Technical assistance is being provided over the phone and via Zoom. Our early childhood mental health staff are on hand to help day care providers assist their stressed-out families.
In addition, we are implementing a special communications plan that will provide our families, supporters and friends tips and resources to help them navigate these uncertain times. To see these posts, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
We made the difficult decision to cancel our 29th Annual Great Chefs’ Dinner, our largest fundraiser and responsible for generating almost 20% of our budget. Proceeds directly support our programs and services. We are turning to you now for your help in covering our shortfall, ensuring we can continue to be a vital resource to families. A gift of any amount will make a difference.
We understand that so much is still uncertain, but we are grateful for the community we’ve built together over the last few decades, and we promise to work tirelessly to help all families emerge from this chapter as strong, healthy, and resilient as possible. Thank you for standing with us.