Child protection and ensuring child well-being in Florida is done through a community-based care approach. Through our local partnerships we provide crucial counseling services for youth and families in crisis, through LSF Grace Place encompassing four youth shelters, 7 group homes and three Case Management Organizations supporting the child welfare system.
- While it is imperative that caseworkers continue to ensure the well-being of children in care, that imperative must be balanced against the health of caseworkers, children in care, and all of the people with whom they come into contact. The monthly caseworker visit requirement remains in place, but we are modifying our policy to permit such visits to be conducted by videoconferencing in these current extraordinary circumstances.
- In our shelters, we are reuniting families where it is safe to do so while also taking the temperature of kids daily and checking for fever symptoms. All non-essential visits have been limited.
- Our development staff is working on securing entertainment and enrichment options for our youth outside of social media and video games, while also adhering to social distancing.
Every family deserves the opportunity to succeed, no matter their circumstances. We serve more than 6,000 children and families each year in Duval, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Palm Beach counties through our Head Start and Early Head Start programs by working to close the achievement gap and serve the family as a whole.
- Each of our classrooms are closed to in alignment with the school systems to children and families. However, our staff is still working. Our teachers and staff may not be in the classrooms, but they are still connecting with parents and serving as a resource. Our educational leaders are designing remote learning plans and strategizing around the challenges that brings for families without computers, the internet and food while they are out of the classrooms.
In the Northeast corner of the state, our LSF Health Systems program serves a 23-county region of more than 50 providers helping those who are uninsured or underinsured struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.
- Our priority is ensuring the providers are ready to handle the increased need this pandemic is causing and planning for any capacity issues that may arise. Dr. Christine Cauffield is an expert in this field and is making media appearances sharing tips and coping strategies for dealing with isolation and fears, among other timely topics.
We are privileged to be on the front lines assisting refugees seeking a brighter future in South, Southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area and by creating a welcoming environment and acclimating them to their new homes.
- We recognize this population is possibly the most riddled with fear. They are living in a country they are unfamiliar with while facing an unknown pandemic. We are connecting them to seasonal job opportunities and encouraging them to seek medical care if they feel sick.
LSF Adult Advocacy Services serves indigent people with limited means as well as those with means to pay for services in Southwest Florida and in the Panhandle. The program provides protection, advocacy and financial management for those who are unable to care for themselves.
- The elderly is the most at-risk population if they contract coronavirus. With 95 percent of the clients we serve in nursing homes, our top priority is to protect them while maintaining remote services. We have suspended face-to-face visits between our case managers and clients, but virtual meetings are taking place so we can continue to address loneliness, isolation and other fears.