A Message to Our Partners
Local to global communities are now contending with an infectious agent that momentarily lays beyond our collective control as it can readily take a life. Yet, in all times and in all communities, intent to positively care for one another and our relationships is how we each routinely give life. With this core value in mind and heart, we chart the deeds of Children’s Institute to foster respect, information, connection, and hope as we together confront the coronavirus.
At this time of “geo-physical” distancing, Children’s Institute staff continue their daily embrace of health, human service, and education partners – and of the children and families in their care – to combat this global public health threat to our collective well-being. We continue our work to amplify positive social connection – the carrier of children’s growth, development and wellness. As communities “de-densify” our bodies in public spaces – Children’s Institute is working to “re-densify” those caring and learning interactions we can keep happening with one another in this time.
We are daily reaching out to partners, individually, to listen and to share our readiness to support wellness and coping. In the past and upcoming weeks, we will continue to reinforce such foundations of social, emotional, and physical well-being among children and the adults who care for them – in spaces where children live, love, laugh and learn. For instance, staff are working daily to:
- Continue to provide behavioral supports for children and consultations with early childhood educators as they are pressed into facing new challenges arising from the coronavirus.
- Promote parent efforts to organize “virtual parent groups” or “virtual school lunches” to reclaim social connection among school-aged children disconnected from their classmates, and among parents who can support one another as school closures call upon them to amplify a “parent-as-teacher” role and to keep their families safe, secure, and with essential needs met.
- Convene community check-ins, for instance, among our communities’ first responders conducting the essential work necessary to face this emergency, such as those who lead infant and early childhood care.
- Prepare new training for teachers and schools striving to equip those who work with children as they adapt to this new learning environment and redesign modes for effective service delivery – to keep children and families safe, healthy, and resilient emotionally at home.
- Share resources with emerging adults, young families, and parents – who are also among the new corps of first-responders including the service workers delivering food, providing day care or home care, stocking grocery store and pharmacy shelves, and driving freight and packages to stores and homes. We have an updated COVID-19 website and have frequent social media posts as we identify resources to reach many language communities.
- Share our public gratitude for the “Kids & Trucks” connection. We applaud those that work with large machinery and vehicles who are now on the front-line of fighting coronavirus – as they make and deliver essential products such as surgical masks.
- Explore virtual modalities to deliver training and group activities to foster how caregivers support their children’s social and emotional development.
- Engage with and support current health care redeployment efforts, for instance, to ensure well check screenings and care delivery can continue for children, to prevent harms that can arise when young children are isolated from such essential in-person services.
- Reinforce ways to attend to self-care, social and emotional development, trauma-responsive interactions, and mental health in all of our activities and interactions – to foster resilience in one another.
- Identify and communicate stories and new information about coping and adaptions underway that are critical for children’s wellbeing in such times. We are highlighting where collective efforts are needed to close inequities in responses to coronavirus – such as the need for families with young children to have equitable digital access to virtually shared content and learning resources that foster young children’s growth and development.
Not included in the list above are the many spontaneous volunteer actions emerging across our Children’s Institute community – such as hand-sewing masks for first responder and essential workers, or special-sized ones for children such as those in residential facilities who seek personal protection as well. We are grateful to have members of our staff volunteering their time and energy in these ways.
In the days and weeks to come, we continue our mission work while also extending our many hands to combat the effects of coronavirus and to offer the kind of fellowship that forms how a community cares for the development of children and their families in such socially and economically turbulent times. We remain your active partner in promoting and assessing children’s well-being including social and emotional health during this global health crisis. We are ready for our ongoing efforts to maintain - and where needed to restore - children’s well-being.
-Ann Marie White, Ed.D.