Resources to Assist Families During the Pandemic
August 31, 2020
Resources to Assist Families During the Pandemic – Pennsylvania’s secretaries of the departments of Health (DOH), Education and Human Services (HS) recently announced the availability of resources and supports for families with children to assist with overcoming challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HS announced that it is creating flexibilities in child care options, including temporarily suspending some regulatory policies on school-age child care to give families options on learning pods, and providing assistance to families struggling financially. HS announced the temporary suspension of some regulatory policies on school-age child care, with the goal of providing flexibilities for families who need safe child care options during traditional school hours for children who are distance learning. In addition, HS announced that families may create collectives – or learning pods – of other trusted families in their community who can depend on each other for supervised child care during school hours without needing a licensed child care certification. DHS is also collaborating with organizations across Pennsylvania, including the United Way and YMCA, to establish part-day child care programs for school-age children and will be launching a tool on its website where families can go for information about these programs.
The department also noted that anyone struggling with mental health and in need of referrals to helpful programs can call Pennsylvania’s new Support & Referral Helpline (1-855-284-2494), which is operated 24/7 by caseworkers who can provide emotional support. Another helpful resource they noted is the 2-1-1 hotline operated by the United Way, which can connect people and families to local resources that can help during the public health crisis. In addition, the Wolf Administration recently launched an online Mental Health Resources Guide to provide Pennsylvanians with a full complement of resources available to help everyone with their mental health needs.
The departments also reminded families about the availability of benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid and CHIP, and the Women Infants & Children (WIC) program, stated the importance of reporting suspected child abuse to ChildLine, and encouraged families to seek information about immunizations and nearby centers to keep their children updated.