COVID-19 Crisis Has Exacerbated Lack of Access…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 14, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis Has Exacerbated Lack of Access to Health Care and Housing Insecurity for Vulnerable Families and Children in Georgia

Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey results show how families in Georgia are coping during the coronavirus pandemic—data reveal food, income, and housing insecurity; mental health concerns; and a lack of access to health care

ATLANTA—Georgia has the highest percentage in the nation of families with children concerned about losing their housing in the next month due to income loss from the pandemic, according to Kids, Families, and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond, a report developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report, released today, provides data on how families in all 50 states are faring during the COVID-19 crisis.

More than half of adults with children in Georgia—58%—reported that they’re concerned about eviction or foreclosure due to pandemic-related income loss, with half of Georgia’s adults with children reporting that they have lost income since the beginning of the pandemic. The report also reveals that Georgia has the second-highest rate of adults who have children in their households who lack health insurance, at 19%—compared to the national average of 12%. Access to health care is always critical, but especially so during the current health crisis.

The report is generated from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, a weekly survey of Americans seeking to understand how families have been managing in the midst of the pandemic for the past nine months. The data show that families across Georgia and the nation are struggling on multiple fronts, with Georgians reporting high economic insecurity, which includes housing and food. For example, 16% of adults with children in Georgia reported that they sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat in the past week, exceeding the national average of 14%.

“The number of families going hungry in Georgia right now is unprecedented—higher than we have ever seen,” said Georgia Food Bank Association Executive Director Danah Craft. “Georgia’s food banks are responding to a 50% increase in demand that surged in March and continues today. Kids who are food insecure are more likely to have poor health overall, getting sicker more often and needing more care. Adults who don’t have the food they need are more likely to miss work and have a difficult time holding down a job, compounding the crisis. We’re the final backstop to keep families from falling into complete crisis, and additional support for children and families in Georgia is vital.”

The pandemic is disproportionately hurting families of color. Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino adults with children reported food insecurity at twice the rate of white Georgians, and were significantly more likely to be concerned that they would not be able to afford usual household expenses.

“Every child in the United States should have the basics, and families should have support to survive the considerable stress and pain of these times,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Our leaders can respond to the COVID-19 crisis by putting equity first, prioritizing children’s physical and mental health, helping families achieve financial stability, and strengthening schools so kids can thrive in spite of the extraordinary times.”

The data also show the mental health toll caused by the pandemic, with more than 30% of adults with children in Georgia reporting they’ve experienced anxiety in the past week, and more than 20% reporting feeling down, depressed, or hopeless in the past week.

“The pandemic has increased the rates of many determinants of mental health conditions, such as isolation, poverty, and lacking sense of security,” said Kim Jones, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Georgia chapter. “Due to this, the data show that mental health issues will be our next pandemic. In 2020, Georgia ranked 51st in access to mental health. We must do better as a state and make mental health a priority when addressing the health of Georgia’s children.”

One positive trend in Georgia is that, compared with several months ago, access to devices for digital learning for children has improved across race and ethnicity. In July, 76% of Black or African American students had access to devices for digital learning, but by September, that rate had risen to 95%. On average, Georgia’s device access increased from 80% in July to 94% in September, exceeding the national average of 93%.

Still, Georgia is either in line with national averages or worse than the national average for the majority of data points, indicating the urgent need for support for this state’s children and families. The data paint a clear picture that Georgia’s families need help across income, housing, health care, food, and several other key areas.

Overall, the data underline the desperate need for state and federal help to ensure that Georgians can make it through the pandemic, not only with their health, but without falling into poverty, starvation, and homelessness.

Given the level of need and struggle the data reveal in the report, here are recommendations for decisionmakers to consider on behalf of children and families as we move into 2021:

  • Use data disaggregated by race and ethnicity to inform decision-making. Understanding which communities have been hit hardest by the pandemic—along with sprawling side effects—will help determine where support is needed most.

  • Work with communities to craft local solutions to their urgent needs, and include their input about their own struggles and needs as decisions are made about how best to support Georgians during this critical time.

  • Prioritize both physical and mental health. Widely distributing a vaccine to all Georgians is critical, just as is supporting those struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. In a school setting, ensuring an adequate counselor-to-student ratio could help alleviate mental health struggles in children.

  • The economic toll of the pandemic on children and families is severe. Georgia families need help with employment, housing, food security, physical and mental health care access, and other issues. Decisionmakers across sectors must provide strategies for economic relief that will keep people in their homes, keep food on the table, and allow people to get the care they need.

  • Schools have been asked to shoulder an enormous lift during the pandemic. Ensuring that schools have the funding and resources they need to support their communities amid ongoing uncertainty is paramount. Furthermore, schools located in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic will need additional supports.

“We knew the pandemic would have dangerous and far-reaching effects on children and families,” said Gaye Smith, executive director of Georgia Family Connection Partnership, Georgia’s KIDS COUNT grantee. “Having these data help us better understand those effects so we can develop a response that will help our most vulnerable Georgians weather this storm in the moment, then position themselves to succeed in the new environment we’ll all find ourselves in on the other side of this crisis.”

Contact: Bill Valladares
william@gafcp.org
404-739-0043

November is National Home Care and Hospice Month

This month, we want to recognize the dedicated professionals who make a daily difference in the lives of the people they serve. These caregivers come in many roles from therapists and aids, administrators and nurses, CNAs and social workers. Their compassion and attention to detail improve the lives of every resident under their care. Their patience and time provide improved quality of life and peace of mind for family members. The month celebrates these qualities and so much more.

elderly woman looking at phone

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is the largest and most-respected trade association representing the nation’s home care and hospice organizations. The NAHC President William A. Dombi states, “Home care and hospice nurses, therapists, aides, and other providers who choose to use their lives to serve our country’s aged, disabled, and dying. This noble work deserves our recognition and praise and we celebrate November as Home Care & Hospice Month for that very reason. 

Take time to thank those who provide home care and hospice care. Their dedicated service should not go unnoticed.

Home Care Services in Wayne County

Some places in Wayne County that provide home care services are:

  • Heartland Hospice Serving Southeast Georgia
  • CHSGA Home Health & Affinis Hospice
  • Hospice of South Georgia
  • GHC Hospice 
  • Community Home Care

A special thank you to all of our home town and hospice heroes. You all have worked in the most extraordinary circumstances during the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond.

Please consider liking our Facebook page and following us on social media to stay up to date with our community news and events. Also, if your organization would like to educate, inform or update Wayne County citizens on a topic or event you’ve been working on – reach out to us so you can be featured here in the Family Connection column of the Press-Sentinel and on our website!

Additionally, the Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative would like to invite anyone in our community to be a part of our group.  For more information, contact Lana Wright at 912-256-2150.  Our meetings are held on the 4th Monday of each month with the next meeting being this coming Monday at 9:30AM.

Source: NAHC.org

#BeThe1To – Keep Them Safe

Last week, we discussed the importance of being there for someone in need. This week, we are discussing ways to keep them safe while they are going through this hard time in their life. So, you’ve asked them questions and you let them know you are there for them. Now it’s important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety if needed. Questions such as, “Have they already done something that could be harmful?” or “Do they know of something that might happen?” would be great to know so that you can take precautionary measures.

Their answers to your questions will help you.

Next, the answers to questions you may have asked can tell you the severity of the situation. For example, you found out that the person has immediate access to a firearm. This is very serious and should be treated like so. Extra steps (like calling the authorities) would be necessary. Another example would be if someone has been depressed and talking about how they want to get out and volunteer to feel less lonely. You could offer to drive them to a place in town where they can use their skills to help others.

Always be sure to check in on them and make sure you don’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

One effective solution that Wayne County high schools students have been using is the StopIt app. It is a simple, fast, and most importantly anonymous way to report problems. You can use the mobile app, web or hotline number. This communication would be between a person and an administrator in real-time. If needed, they could turn it over to emergency services.

There are also ways to personally keep yourself safe as well as others. An app that has been highly recommended is the Circle of 6 app. You pick six friends or family members to be in your circle. They can be notified if you’d like them to text or call you at a certain time. It even has a danger button that be activated to reach hotline numbers in situations such as domestic abuse.

Follow these guidelines to help keep your community safe:

  • Don’t leave a person alone in a lethal situation
  • Check for signs of drug or alcohol overdose
  • If it’s an emergency, call 911 and notify a family member or friend
  • Get help from a trained professional
  • Make sure they have numbers to call/hotlines if they have talked or behaved in a manner that makes you believe they may put themselves in danger

Your intervention may help the person see that other options are available to stay safe and get help. Follow us on social media to keep up with events, volunteer opportunities, meetings, and other news at wcfamilyconnect on Instagram and Family Connection – Wayne County, GA on Facebook!

Become a part of Family Connection

The Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative would also like to invite anyone in our community to be a part of our group.  For more information, contact Lana Wright at 912-256-2150. Our meetings are held on the 4th Monday of each month. Browse the rest of our website to learn more & connect with us if you have any questions.

If you or someone you know is struggling today, call the Mental Health Task Force # for Wayne County to speak with a professional: 

Business Hours 9am-5pm: 912-530-8889

After Hours: 912-256-2150

If you see warning signs of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to stay up to date on collaborative meetings and other events.

Facebook

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In addition, please like and share. We’d love for these articles to reach everyone in the Wayne County Community!

Training That Can Impact Your Community

connections matter training

Hosted by: Share Health Southeast Georgia and the Wayne County Substance Abuse Coalition

TRAINING DETAILS

WHEN: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 — 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM

WHERE: TBD – if virtual you will receive a zoom link by email 2 weeks in advance


CONTACT: Addison Mickens – amickens@sharehealthsega.org


REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND
Click here to register!

What is Connections Matter?

Connections Matter is designed to engage community members in building caring connections to improve resiliency. The Connections Matter Georgia initiative is a collaboration with Prevent Child Abuse Georgia and the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy.

Why Attend the Training?

• Interactive, discussion-based curriculum and better understanding of trauma, brain development, resilience, and health
• Concrete knowledge about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
• Action planning and next steps for how you can make a difference
• Resources on trauma-informed care and implementation
• Strategies for increasing and improving your own connections and tools for strengthening both personal and community resilience
• Meeting other community members and building your network

Who Should Attend?

• Parents
• Community Members
• Childcare/Family SupportProfessionals
• Non-Profit Professionals
• Medical/Human ServicesProviders
• Faith Organizations

georgia child advocacy
georgia child abuse

Click here to register now!

Interested in Head Start or Pre-K?

By Lynn Robinson

(Editor’s note: Lynn Robinson is the family services worker for Wayne County Head Start & Pre-K, a service provided by the Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority.)

Will your child be 3 or 4 on or before Sept. 1? Immunizations current? Proof of income for the last 12 months (W-2 or three consecutive recent pay stubs, SSI, SSA, child support, or other)? No income?

We have paperwork for you to use to complete the enrollment process. Come to Wayne County Head Start and Pre-K.

This federally funded national program provides comprehensive child developmental services to children. Head Start works with other community agencies and contract professionals to provide a program with health, nutritional, educational, and social services. Just as in traditional educational facilities, your child’s attendance really matters. Children can’t learn if they do not attend.

You, as a parent, are a big part of the process. Parents can become fully involved in the development of their child through our policy council, center committees, classroom volunteers and many other avenues. There are monthly parent meetings covering various subjects, including cooking, budgeting, child development, health resources and much more. There are monthly activities for fathers and other family members such as kite building, flower planting, bubble blowing and more to encourage the relationship between the parent and the child.

What are some of the rewards? Children will gain skills that will assist them when entering public school. As a parent, you will gain skills and develop resources to help you to encourage further development in your child. Because family and family members participate in the process, children will understand that education is valuable and that their families want them to be successful.

So what’s next? To apply for Head Start (and Pre-K), you will need the child’s birth certificate, proof of income (last 12 months or calendar year), and a Georgia immunization certificate (Form No. 3231). Please be ready to supply the Social Security number, the child’s most recent physical exam and dental exam, and a medical insurance document. Pre-K placement requires additional documents, including residency information, a 3300 form and a Pre-K enrollment form.

Once you have submitted all of the information, if your child is determined to be eligible for the program, your child will be placed on a priority list based on information from your application. The points are arranged from highest to lowest. Selection is not done on a first-come, first-served basis. The list is constantly changing as each new application is taken. The process is easy and the rewards are great!

More information?  Please contact 427-4527, or visit Wayne County Head Start and Pre-K at 724 N. Fourth St. in Jesup. See you soon!

#Bethe1To

Wayne County Family Connection has been doing a lot in our community during this time that has been affected by Covid-19. Our focus has been on mental health awareness throughout Wayne County. and what can be done to bring more awareness in hopes of removing the stigma associated with mental health. May is Mental Health awareness month, established in the United States in 1949. One way to bring awareness has been implemented in Wayne County High School as they put into action the “Be The 1 To” campaign. Wayne County Family Connection would like to join with WCHS and challenge our citizens to “Be The 1 To”.

Bethe1toask

#BeThe1To

Ask: Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you are open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way.

Keep Them Safe: First, it is good for everyone to be on the same page. After the “Ask” step, and you have determined suicide is indeed being talked about, it is important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety.

Be There: This could mean being physically present for someone, speaking with them on the phone when you can, or any other way that shows support for the person at risk.

Help Them Connect: Helping someone with thoughts of suicide connect with ongoing support that can help them establish a safety net for those moments they find themselves in a crisis.

Follow Up: After your initial contact with a person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and after you have connected them with the immediate support systems they need, make sure to follow-up with them to see how they are doing.

For more information on the “Be The 1 To” campaign and what we are doing to bring awareness follow Wayne County Family Connection on social media.

Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative Celebrates Rayonier Advanced Materials $12,500 Gift for “Mental Health Task Force” Initiative Amid COVID-19

JESUP, GA. – May 7, 2020 – Amid a growing need for resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative announced today that Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. (NYSE: RYAM) contributed $12,500 to its Mental Health Task Force Committee—an initiative that is focusing on areas of mental health, substance abuse, student success and homelessness in Wayne County. The grant was made through Rayonier Advanced Materials’ charitable arm, the RYAM Foundation.

“We’re immensely grateful for Rayonier Advanced Materials’ generous contribution and we look forward to putting their dollars into action,” said Lana D. Wright, Executive Director at the Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative. “This grant will go a long way in decreasing social poverty, mental health crises and substance abuse disorders within Wayne County—and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. Many Wayne County families are hurting right now.”

The Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative’s Mental Health Task Force Committee is dedicated to improving Behavioral Health services in Wayne County by developing cross-organizational partnerships to identify and manage the needs of citizens at risk for social deprivation. Rayonier Advanced Materials’ grant will help address the community’s needs by optimizing key areas in Behavioral Health services. 

“Weathering this crisis means pulling together,” said Paul Boynton, President and Chief Executive Officer at Rayonier Advanced Materials. “It’s our responsibility to help our neighbors in need. The Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative is doing excellent work on the ground and we’re proud to support them.”

Rayonier Advanced Materials said the $12,500 contribution is part of a larger initiative to assist local nonprofits during the COVID-19 crisis in the communities where the company operates. The company gave a total of $42,500 to four local nonprofits in the Wayne County area. 

“We know these gifts will make a difference,” said Jay Posze, President of the RYAM Foundation. “Not only by providing these deserving nonprofits with some much-needed assistance, but also by spotlighting the truly indispensable work they do. We hope others are encouraged to give as well.”

About The Wayne County Family Connection

The Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative has been a part of Wayne County for many years.  We look at areas of school success and opportunities for improvement as a concern within our community. Our Collaborative is focused on sustaining close relationships with our partners through supporting our schools, civic organizations, and our community.

Through our collaboration and collective efforts, we have learned that we can make collective impacts. Listening, learning, acting, and gaining wisdom, along with our statewide network, allows us to share stories of success, and resources. Ultimately our primary accomplishment is to enjoy the prosperity that comes from having vibrant, healthy families and communities throughout Georgia. The Executive Director for the Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative, Lana D. Wright extends an invitation to the public to join our Collaborative which meets the 4th Monday in each month at 9:30 a.m. Our meeting location is 367 Bamboo Street, Jesup, Georgia.                                                               

familyconnection@waynehelp.com – 912-256-2150.  

Make a difference in the life of a child!

Make a difference in the life of a child!

(Editor’s note: Rachel Autry is the advocacy and recruitment coordinator for Tri-County CASA Inc.)

The month of April recognizes national child abuse prevention awareness and education. COVID-19 is preventing many of those who normally see children on a daily basis from doing so. It is more important than ever to be those eyes and ears of our community.

Along with community partners, here is how one agency is doing its part.

Tri-County CASA Inc. volunteers have been advocating for the foster children of Appling, Wayne and Jeff Davis counties for more than 20 years. CASA volunteers, or court-appointed special advocates, are specially trained community citizens who advocate for abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system. These amazing volunteers are agents of the court, appointed by juvenile court judges, and advocate for the child’s best interest. The CASA volunteer offers the judges a broad and objective picture of the child’s life so that they can make the most informed decision for that child’s permanent placement.

It is through review, research, meetings and visits that a CASA volunteer gathers information and monitors the child’s case through the juvenile legal system. A CASA volunteer engages regularly with his or her assigned child and creates and fosters a close relationship not only to be a voice for that child but to convey to the court that child’s wishes for a permanent home.

CASA volunteers are everyday citizens and bring a wealth of personal and professional wisdom, along with specialized training, observation and support. Volunteers are at least 21 years of age, consent to and pass a thorough background check, and complete 40 hours of classroom training and courtroom observation. CASA volunteers are screened to uphold professional and unbiased requirements, continue training throughout their commitment, and report suspected child abuse and neglect. All of these requirements ensure that the highest possible standards are maintained.

Tri-County CASA volunteers range in age from the early 20s to the 70s and have varied educational backgrounds, and more than half work either full-time or part-time while volunteering. CASA volunteers are supported by Tri-County CASA staff throughout their assignments and are offered additional training, support and education to serve their children and continue to advocate for their child’s best interest.

It takes only one person to make a lifelong difference in the life of a child. Is that person YOU? Tri-County CASA Inc. continues to accept volunteers and offers volunteer training classes year-round. To find out more about this nonprofit organization and how you can become an advocate for local foster children, contact Tri-County CASA Inc. at (912) 367-0064, or visit our website at tri-countycasainc.org or our Tri-County CASA Inc. Facebook page.

To report suspected child abuse and/or neglect, call 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4253). Reports are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Interested in Head Start or pre-K?

By Lynn Robinson

(Editor’s note: Lynn Robinson is a family services worker for the Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority, which operates Wayne County Head Start & Pre-K.)

Will your child be 3 or 4 on or before Sept. 1? Are immunizations current? Do you have proof of income for the last 12 months (W2 or three consecutive recent paystubs, SSI, SSA, child support or other)? Do you have no income?

We have paperwork for you to use to complete the enrollment process. Come to Wayne County Head Start and Pre-K.

This federally funded national program provides comprehensive child developmental services to children. Head Start works with other community agencies and contract professionals to provide a program with health, nutritional, educational and social services.

Just as with traditional educational facilities, your child’s attendance really matters. Children can’t learn if they do not attend.

You, as a parent, are a big part of the process. Parents can become fully involved in the development of their child through our policy council, center committees, classroom volunteering and many other avenues. There are monthly parent meetings covering various subjects, including cooking, budgeting, child development, health resources and much more. There are monthly activities for fathers and other family members, such as kite building, flower planting, bubble blowing and more, to encourage the relationship between the parent and the child.

What are some of the rewards? Your child will gain skills that will assist them when entering public school. As a parent, you will gain skills and develop resources to help you to encourage further development in your child. Since family and family members participate in the process, your child will understand that education is valuable and their family wants them to be successful.

So what’s next? To apply for Head Start (and pre-K), you will need the child’s birth certificate, proof of income (last 12 months or calendar year), and a Georgia immunization certificate (form No. 3231). Please be ready to supply the Social Security number, the child’s most recent physical exam and dental exam, and a medical insurance document. Pre-K placement requires additional documents, including residency information, a 3300 form and a pre-K enrollment form.

Once you have submitted all of the information; and if your child is determined to be eligible for the program, your child will be placed on a priority list based on information from your application. The points are arranged from highest to lowest. Selection is not done on a first-come, first-served basis. The list is constantly changing as each new application is taken. The process is easy and the rewards are great!

Want more information?  Please contact 427-4527, or visit Wayne County Head Start & Pre-K at 724 N. Fourth St. in Jesup. See you soon!

(For the children currently enrolled this school year: Your child is considered for pre-K positions for the 2020-2021 school year—provided additional documents are obtained. These include a re-enrollment package, along with pre-K documentation.)

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