Poor families really struggled during this pandemic. Requests more than tripled in 2020.
This crisis was hard on everyone but underserved families were especially vulnerable. Many were unable to feed, educate, entertain and safely supervise children home all day in small substandard living spaces while also worrying about rent and lost wages. OCH tried to meet as many needs as possible so our most vulnerable kids did not fall even farther behind their peers during this difficult time.
The need for e-cards for food and clothing skyrocketed as many second-hand stores were closed and pantries were often overwhelmed. Also, families wanted to avoid being in crowded public spaces whenever possible just like the rest of us. A week of groceries lifted many a family’s flagging spirits and reduced stress tremendously.
For technology needs: In addition, we have provided hundreds of new laptops and chromebooks to help children access on-line learning. Many school systems could not provide them, or were only able to provide one per family. Requests continued to come in for these essential items throughout the pandemic. All students needed to have their own device because most schools are in session at exactly the same time.
We also frequently provided new tablets to make virtual parent/child visitation possible for families where children were either currently in temporary foster care settings or in treatment facilities, since many could not see each other in person. Children are devastated when families are separated and meaningful connections cannot be maintained. These devices were lifelines during the lockdown!
Technology devices are also essential for children and families who need them in order to participate in tele-counselling or to attend critical school meetings or court hearings held online.
Safe and Stable Housing: We also saw a rapidly escalating need for housing supports, from basic needs like heat or emergency rent assistance to avoid evictions!
OCH has been uniquely able to help many of our most vulnerable during this critical time without missing a beat because we have always worked through a centralized on-line platform (this also means very low overhead costs). We have helped more than 4,700 children and 2,700 families over the course of the pandemic, and hope to never turn anyone away.
“Normally” OCH is asked to provide items and services such as:
- Beds, bikes and other basics that support underserved children whether at home or in fostercare;
- Laptops so all students have the chance to keep up with classes, apply to college or look for jobs;
- Bus or train passes to help ageing out teens get jobs or parents visit lonely children in distant foster care;
- Emergency rent to reduce stress and prevent homelessness during a temporary setback;
- After-school activities so at-risk kids are in safe settings learning skills.
One Can Help is great in helping families and individuals obtain services and/or items they are not able to obtain through other means. Recently, I received financial assistance so that an at-risk youth could join an afterschool sports team (and get the sports equipment he needed to do so). This will help him stay out of trouble and improve his relationship with his family. Also, it will hopefully deter any need for further court involvement.”
— Social Worker