Your investment on Give STL Day last year allowed us to change 2020 from a threat to an opportunity. Rather than widespread instability and further trauma, our families experienced unparalleled support. Your support over the years made that possible. The Coalition had the luxury of being agile, proactive, and intentional because thousands of individuals, foundations, corporations, and advocates have empowered us into a position to do so.
Within a week of lockdown, we launched the Coalition CareLine to quickly help foster, adoptive, and guardianship families connect to services.
With your support, we were able to quickly help families meet their most pressing needs:
A single parent of one 9-year-old adopted child and 3 children in foster care under 3 years of age contacted the Coalition CareLine for support. One of the younger children who has been in the home since birth has many complicated diagnoses that require a multitude of therapeutic appointments every week. Prior to the pandemic, the foster parent had several supportive resources to help her coordinate care and transportation to make sure everyone got to where they needed to be, on time, and no one was left behind. During this time, however, she has been without nearly all of her supports. She has had her work reduced to part-time and, while creative, she is having a difficult time finding and paying babysitters to watch the babies while she takes the older child with medical and behavioral issues to all his appointments. The Coalition connected the foster parent to local resources and provided gift cards to help with immediate material needs. This support took some of the weight off of her shoulders as she navigated difficult challenges to help her children heal.
As classrooms were shut down, meetings were canceled, and parents were asked to homeschool their children, kids with special needs were left particularly vulnerable. Claire, Director of Educational Advocacy, received a call from a family she worked with prior to the COVID-19 crisis. They struggled to connect with their child’s school to reschedule an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting to allow their child to receive the services they needed to be successful. Claire pushed the school to remind them of their legal responsibility to the child and was able to schedule the IEP meeting. During that meeting they discussed the child’s services for the future, but also how their needs could be met during remote learning. This pandemic has revealed the precariousness of our community’s most vulnerable students. But thanks to Claire’s advocacy, there is one more child who will receive an effective education during the pandemic and beyond.
Shonetta, a 30 Days to Family® Specialist, received a referral for a baby who was born to a mother struggling with drug addiction. The baby’s mother had several other children already placed with multiple relatives who were at their maximum capacity and unable to take one more child. The baby was placed in a foster home with strangers. Unfortunately, family member after family member was unable or unwilling to accept this baby into their home. But Shonetta did not give up! Through hard work and persistence, she was able to find a maternal fourth cousin who was willing to take in the baby even while expecting a baby of her own! While most of the world has paused, child abuse and neglect has not stopped for COVID-19, but neither has Shonetta or the Coalition’s 30 Days to Family Program.
At the start of the pandemic, we knew this was an opportunity for foster, adoptive, and guardianship parents to show the kids in their care that stress does not always lead to abuse or neglect. But to show our kids that hard times do not mean they have to hurt, we had to make sure these caregivers felt supported, and that they knew they were not alone.
Thanks to you, we were able to shape that reality for thousands of St. Louis children in 2020.