27 Mar Coming Together While Social Distancing: Supporting Parents During COVID-19
This post was originally published as an op-ed in the Courier Journal on March 27, 2020.
By Keith Inman, president of Kosair Charities
“When will we go back to school? I miss my friends.”
“Why can’t we see Grandma and Grandpa?”
“Why are we home all the time? I’m bored.”
“I’m scared. Why are people wearing masks? I don’t want to get sick. Will everyone get sick?”
Kids ask LOTS of questions. Babies cry. Toddlers are…toddlers. Pre-teens lash out. Teenagers stretch the limits of screen time and our patience. Parenting is tough enough already and now we’re all stuck in one place.
COVID-19 has impacted every sector and every family, and we are all trying to figure out our new normal while navigating facts and direction from the CDC and Governor Beshear. Especially in recent weeks, parents may also be struggling to make ends meet, balancing child care and schooling, and maintaining a healthy and happy home.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Kosair Charities® Face It® Movement continues its’ commitment to raising awareness, advocating for policies and budget investments, and promoting best practices around keeping kids safe and strengthening families in the Commonwealth. With the realities of the current public health crisis, we also recognize the urgency of understanding and articulating the needs and concerns of parents and caregivers during this difficult and confusing time.
Our now over 100 partners in the Face It Movement are hard at work adapting their programs to best fit families’ current needs. This includes access to meals, counseling services, safe child care, and activities for family fun at home. And one aspect stays constant through all outreach – we must come together while social distancing.
I have been humbled and inspired by the hundreds of stories across the Commonwealth and the nation of communities coming together while practicing social distancing. Bus drivers delivering food to the children on their route who may not have it any other way. Educators adapting to a new way of teaching curriculum so their students can still learn. Healthcare workers putting themselves at risk and going to work every day to serve those suffering from coronavirus. Churches stepping up to ensure the families in their community have their basic needs are met. Zoos and museums offering a virtual look inside their grounds in an effort to keep kids entertained. Families gathering outside of hospital and nursing home room windows just to put a smile on their loved one’s face.
This is the kind of creativity and selflessness we need to stay connected when we cannot physically be connected.
This is the creativity we need to ensure parents and caregivers feel connected and supported – maybe just when they need it most.
The COVID-19 crisis challenges us to go outside of our comfort zone and maybe our typical social contacts. It challenges us to check-in on that family down the street that you haven’t connected with before – maybe a kind note in sidewalk chalk or a wave from a safe distance. It challenges us to try new technologies so we can stay in touch – whether that’s creating a Facebook group or downloading an app to keep your family active or setting aside time for a group FaceTime or Skype call with extended family. It challenges us to be more open to asking for help when we need it. Either you are low on toilet paper and milk, the kids are going stir crazy, or a combination of both – reach out for help. If you are struggling, there are likely many other parents in your network feeling the same way.
Staying connected in the realities of social distancing will be hard. While COVID-19 may have changed our routines, advocates are working hard each day to protect the health and well-being of kids in Kentucky, who are especially vulnerable during this time. Join Us.