Wednesday, September 30, 2020
With the new school year upon us, parents are facing many challenges. It is natural for them to feel stress. Maintaining routines, having fun and using positive language can be helpful. For parents who start to feel anxious, taking a deep breath and talking to trusted family members or friends are great first steps. But if the situation becomes overwhelming, there are resources to help.
To better protect vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Hamilton County Job & Family Services and Cincinnati Public Schools are collaborating on a new campaign called Safe and Sound @ Home Cincinnati. The goal is to raise awareness about parenting support and resources available to those in the community who may be struggling.
“Child abuse is already under-reported in normal times. During the shutdown, Children’s Services saw a 40% drop in calls about abuse and neglect. While reporting has increased since then, calls are still down from normal levels,” said Tim McCartney, Interim Director, Hamilton County Department of Job & Family Services. “Given the stress, anxiety and hardships surrounding the pandemic, we want to offer a collaborative approach to families by letting them know that we are here for them.”
Support systems are available that can provide help with a variety of services, including food, medical assistance, childcare, housing, utilities, employment, cash and legal aid. However, experts have found some parents have difficulty asking for public benefits.
“Many people find themselves asking for help for the first time ever, and it can feel confusing and uncomfortable,” said Carley Riley, MD, attending physician in the division of Critical Care Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s. “There is no right or wrong way to feel when navigating your way through public assistance. We want to stress there’s no shame in asking for help. Taking care of your family is courageous. It shows strength and resilience.”
Resource guides on who to call for help have been available for the last several months at Cincinnati Public Schools food distribution sites. Public service announcements for Safe and Sound @ Home Cincinnati have also been released recently.
“This collaboration further solidifies the investment we all have in the health and well-being of children,” said Carrie Bunger, PhD, Director of Positive School Culture & Safety at Cincinnati Public Schools. “By working together to support vulnerable families, we can increase the community safety net—especially for those at risk during these challenging times.”
For a comprehensive list of resources available for parents and children, follow this link.