I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. I’m reaching out to give you an update on our programs and how we have adapted them to continue serving the community during this time of crisis. I want to thank all of you for your continued support of Children’s Aid, whether it’s making a donation, purchasing diapers or toiletries on our Amazon wish list, reaching out to our staff to find ways to help or following us on social media. The need for our programs is even greater than usual, and your desire to help the people we serve is truly amazing.
Like everyone else staying at home 24/7, our residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities are having to adapt to big changes in their routines. They are used to being active: going to day program, on community outings and visiting their family. Now, for everyone’s safety and wellbeing, only essential staff is going into the group homes. We are fortunate that our Direct Support Professionals and STRIVE staff are so dedicated to our clients. They are working hard to support our residents by playing games, engaging in fitness and doing arts and crafts projects. Our Recreation Leader has been making engaging videos for our residents called “STRIVE at Five,” that we are featuring on social media. You can follow us on Facebook at Childrens.Aid.and.Family.Services to watch them.
The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources’ staff has been extremely resourceful in creating alternative ways to reach those they help. People suffering from the disease of addiction especially need support now, and we have established a 24-hour hotline to access addiction services and support: 201-589-2976. Our recovery specialists are communicating with their clients via email, text and old-fashioned letter writing and have launched an online community. The need for our parent programs is great with families spending so much time together, and in response, we have created virtual programs such as Prospering Parents and Family Fridays. Our school programs have transitioned online, with our staff pre-recording prevention programs. Our community education team has recently launched several public service campaigns around underage drinking and youth substance misuse.
The young moms at Zoe’s Place have been sheltering in place, taking online classes and spending lots of time with their babies, reading to them, going for walks and playing in the yard. I’d like to offer special thanks to the Woodlea Path Advisory Council for giving the babies such beautiful Easter baskets!
The Baby Basics program staff has been working hard to help the families they serve during this pandemic. Since our distribution sites are closed, we created a drive-through diaper pick up at our Paramus location, and our staff is delivering diapers to families that don’t have transportation. Many of the families are comprised of hourly workers who may be in danger of losing their jobs or being furloughed. They don’t have the resources to buy diapers in bulk, and this program is a true lifeline, even more so now. We recently asked for donations as diaper drives led by volunteer groups – which continually replenish our stock of diapers and wipes — are on hold indefinitely and we need to purchase them. The response was phenomenal, and we are so thankful!
We have seen a significant increase in requests for help from our former foster youth. Many of them have lost their jobs and are worried about the future as they generally don’t have family support. We have been providing gift cards, groceries, diapers, toiletries and financial help with utility bills and rent. We expect this uptick in requests to continue in the foreseeable future.
We are committed to helping those we serve during this difficult time, and I am so proud of our staff for their dedication to our mission and our clients. I am extremely grateful to all of you for your continued support. We are still here, we are still helping because of you. Please stay well and safe.
President & CEO