30 Jun Providing Concrete Supports for Families in Need
All parents and caregivers need help at some point in their parenting journeys: tips on how to soothe a colicky baby, help with transporting busy kids to extracurricular activities, assistance to overcome substance use, or even support in feeding their family. During such times, parents must rely on concrete community resources to help them be the best parents and caregivers they can be.
Parents who need assistance to meet the basic needs of their families (such as food, clothing, shelter, and safety) are often faced with toxic, prolonged stress due to these challenges. When such stress is overwhelming, parents’ and caregivers’ ability to practice self-care, manage their stress, and care for their children can be significantly compromised. Therefore, caregivers in all communities need to be able to access concrete support and services that address their needs and help to minimize the stress caused by very difficult challenges and adversity.
There may be several reasons that parents are not able to access these supports and we must come together as a community to overcome these barriers:
- Resource-deficient communities. Not all communities are resource-rich. Many communities, especially small rural ones, have a limited number of community resources that are able to provide assistance to parents and families. In many cases, the few resources that exist are asked to provide a wide array of services, rather than having a focused area of expertise and assistance. To provide the best care and support to our families, local communities can work together to access state and federal funding to expand services, collaborate with one another to coordinate support, and look to nearby communities to fill resource gaps.
- Not being aware of resources. While some communities simply lack the resources to sufficiently support families, others have an abundance of resources and services that may be underutilized. We must ensure that families are aware that services exist that can assist them in meeting their families’ basic needs. Schools, youth-serving organizations, and other community organizations that serve kids and families can play a role in recognizing families in need, referring them to supports, and helping them overcome barriers that may prevent them from accessing such supports.
- Hesitation to ask for help. Likely one of the biggest barriers to accessing services is the shame or stigma associated with asking for help. It may be embarrassing for some parents because it feels like an admission of incompetence; that they don’t know how to solve their own problems or take care of their family. However, we must normalize the fact that parenting is tough and we must ask for help to provide the best care possible to our children. We can do this by encouraging help-seeking behaviors in the parents/caregivers we interact with and helping them to understand their own biases and stigmas associated with certain services. It may also be helpful to encourage parents and caregivers to meet the concrete basic needs of other families in their community to normalize help-seeking and achieve a sense of reciprocity.
One Face It partner that continues to provide for the basic needs of families throughout the Kentuckiana region is Dare to Care Food Bank. Dare to Care leads our community in feeding the hungry and conquering the cycle of need through innovative programs and efficient operations, and by partnering with local food pantries, shelters, and kitchens to get food to people in need. In Jefferson County alone, 11.7% (or 89,690 individuals) face food insecurity. Dare to Care was able to provide 13,871,260 meals to individuals and families in 2021. To learn more about Dare to Care Food Bank, including ways to get involved, visit daretocare.org.