Many Americans have faced uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps none more so than children in the child-welfare system.
KidsVoice had to adapt nimbly to our clients’ pressing needs. We prioritized three initiatives:
- Health, including an innovative COVID-19 partnership with Children’s Hospital that provides priority medical reviews by expert nurses and telehealth to clients
- Education, addressing learning deficits from remote school and closures, and obtaining compensatory services for special education students
- Older Youth and Housing Stability, including individualized emergency placements for youth aging out of care.
In particular, our staff stretched themselves to address the detrimental impacts of pandemic-related educational issues. For many KidsVoice youth, remote schooling means being cut off not only from education but from a place of safety, perhaps their only meal of the day, mental health counseling and support, school nurses, and services for development delays. Those negative impacts fall disproportionately on vulnerable, low-income families (who may not even have access to wi-fi), and especially African American and Hispanic households.
With our clients attending more than 40 different school districts in Allegheny County and beyond, KidsVoice has been mitigating these educational risks by reassigning specific staff to become experts on COVID developments in the districts our clients most frequently attend, develop relationships with district administrators, and regularly bring to them a list of client needs from across our office. We are aggressively pursuing compensatory educational services for our clients, who cannot afford to fall further behind their peers.
Our work with older youth has become particularly intensive during COVID—we did not anticipate the level of need created by the pandemic and spent more time per client than expected. This has had positive benefits for our clients. For example, a former client reconnected with KidsVoice looking for job training. After discussing his family situation, we were able to provide resources and services to his two young daughters, expunge a juvenile record, help with credit repair, and address issues preventing him from getting a driver’s license.
If you would like to support vulnerable youth during this difficult time, please visit our donation page.
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