Here we are.

Four months into the COVID19 pandemic.

Back in March, we didn’t know where this was going to go and had no idea how long we would be separated from loved ones, that school would never go back, and that businesses would still be going to extraordinary lengths to adapt.

And now that we are here, we still don’t know what the future will hold. What we do know is that there is a new way of living. We also know that many of the more vulnerable and marginalized people are facing significant challenges, most notably isolation and financial hardship as a result of the pandemic response.

We promised to keep you up to date on how your support is helping the children, youth, and families we serve. We also said we would share when and where new areas of need are emerging.

We are still most concerned about families with children at home and youth living independently. We continue to support the programs and services focused on the prevention of child abuse and neglect, an area that lacks government funding, as well as supporting needs related to the pandemic.

For families with children at home, the last four months have been challenging, largely due to the school closures and juggling caring for children with other responsibilities, such as work. And now, with summer here, parents are also facing the fact that there are very few summer camp spaces available. Camp provides respite to parents and offers children the opportunity to be out of the house, to connect with other adults, to try new things, and develop confidence and resilience. It can even be a place of safety for at-risk children.

There has never been a time when these things were needed more.

With your support we are making programs available that provide similar benefits while respecting public health guidelines. This includes supporting the expansion of existing art and music classes and the development of new ways to deliver programs that are usually offered in person. For example, the S.M.I.L.E.S. program, which supports children whose parents are affected by mental illness, is going online. Virtual group discussions are replacing in-person groups like Trusting Loving Connections (TLC).

While the provincial government has committed that no youth will age out of care during the pandemic, the youth who have left care over the past few years are extremely vulnerable. Even at the best of times, the transition from being under the care of the Agency, to living independently as an adult is challenging. From the outset, we recognized that this group would be deeply impacted by the economic downturn due to COVID19. Many lost work, couldn’t get housing, or lacked the tools necessary to stay connected to friends and other supports.

With community support, we have been able to provide youth with care packages, financial assistance for cleaning supplies, personal items and groceries, as well as the technology needed to stay connected – so important during this time of physical distancing. We are also continuing our support for youth who are attending college or university. This year that support is vital as many youth have lost summer job prospects that would help offset the high costs of their education. 

We depend entirely on gifts from the community to help these youth as government funding ends when they leave care at age 18. We know those first few years can be difficult. Executive Director Karen Spencer explained why support for youth is so vital in this short video acknowledging a grant from KWCF.

Our commitment to preventing child abuse and neglect hasn’t wavered. Neither has your support. We thank you for all you’ve done to help keep children, youth and families connected and safe.

While we don’t know what lies ahead, we do know that this is a caring community and that children, youth, and families matter to you. We are grateful for your kindness and generosity.
 
If you would like more information on how you can help visit https://www.facswaterloo.org/foundation/ways-you-can-give or email foundation@facswaterloo.org
 
Family & Children's Services Foundation | www.facsfoundation.org