In our family preservation and support programs, we have adapted to continue to serve our families in need to the best of our ability virtually, during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our team has also gone above and beyond to stay connected and has been working to meet our families needs in-person (with social distancing) as well. Below are four positive stories about how we have been supporting our families during this trying time.

Healthy Families Kent

When COVID was just beginning to emerge in Michigan, one of our workers, Becca Boot, was contacted by some friends who own The Old Goat restaurant in Grand Rapids. They were closing the dining room during the stay-at-home order, but had some produce and dairy products they didn’t want to go to waste. Becca reaches out to her team, and got a list of clients who were most in need. Then, she picked up the food and her coworker, Allison Vriesenga, gathered boxes and ziploc bags. Becca and Allison boxed up the donated food for distribution to families in the Healthy Families Program and the rest of the team picked up and delivered the food boxes to their clients’ homes all that same day. It was incredible, fast-paced teamwork. One family cried through the window because they were so scared about COVID and needed the help but didn’t know where to start or who could help, within the confines of the stay-at-home order.

Healthy Families Muskegon

Our Healthy Families team was working with a mom who was pregnant, due in April, and renting a room in someone else’s home. She was in need of a small refrigerator, some baby items, and an electric griddle or hot plate to heat up food. Her worker, Staci McMillan, sent out a request to her teammates and within a week, all of these items had been located. They were all delivered, using safe distancing, to Staci, who was able to get them dropped off to the client’s home before she delivered her baby.

Families First Program

A change to our program was that we had to learn how to hire, train staff, and shadow visits, all virtually, but both teams and supervisors showed incredible creativity and initiative to make sure providing help to these families never paused. They went to food pantries for their clients, delivered food, and other basic needs supplies, and continued to advocate for families and teach skills, often using technology that was previously unfamiliar to them. It is through their passion and inventiveness that we were able to successfully keep families safely together during the COVID crisis. Additionally, when the state implemented rapid reunification of children who were in foster care when the COVID outbreak started, it caused a huge influx of referrals that overflowed the capacity of Family Reunification programs around the state. Our FFM teams were able to take on these reunification cases so that these children were able to return safely to their homes.

Family Reunification Program

There was a huge influx of cases when the state implemented rapid reunification of children in foster care who were getting close to their return home before the COVID breakout. Our FRP teams jumped to the challenge and took on these referrals, at times going over the capacity of what they could usually serve. In some cases, supervisory staff took on cases as therapists to make these reunifications happen for families in our community. The workers assisted families with creating educational plans, helping to secure chrome books and other supplies for distance learning, and advocating with other service providers to ensure the needs of these vulnerable families continued to be met.

All in all, it is because of the dedication, creativity, and inventiveness of our direct service staff that our Family Preservation programs at CCWM were able to continue to provide help and create hope for families in our community during this unprecedented pandemic.

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