These are challenging times—many are struggling in different ways and the critical importance of mental health, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, has become vividly apparent.
Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services primarily serves a population of low-income children, young adults, and families, including many who are in foster care or are homeless. Their struggles and stress levels are greater on an average day, but during this time are escalated because of financial hardships, school closures, social isolation, fear, and uncertainty.
Hathaway-Sycamores is continuing to take new referrals from the County Department of Mental Health. In response to the current times, the team at Hathaway-Sycamores is being flexible and creative to provide services to both current and new clients to meet the evolving needs of the community.
According to Hathaway-Sycamores President and CEO Debra Manners, “In compliance with social distancing guidelines, we are currently providing many of our services via telehealth. In one week alone we provided mental health services to over 1,730 clients by phone. This not only requires our employees to have the tools, but also for our clients to have access to phones, computers and internet services. We are doing what we can to make that possible.” Manners continues, “For some situations though, in person visits are still necessary to ensure the health and well-being of the child. Our staff, dressed in PPE, are readily conducting face-to-face visits.”
Hathaway-Sycamores staff members continue to go out into the community to ensure the safety of children in response to crises and urgent needs, especially if there is suspicion of abuse in a household. Hathaway-Sycamores is also providing many clients with food and household items, diapers, laundry detergent, baby wipes, school supplies, puzzles, and games.
Additionally, staff at the agency are continuing their homeless outreach to get young adults off the streets and into motels when necessary. Typically, Hathaway-Sycamores places one to two young adults in motels a month as they work to create a more permanent solution. Over the past month, they have helped 18 homeless young adults and are funding their motel stays until the shelter at home regulations are lifted. The agency’s residential campus, home to some 60 boys ages 6 to 18 years, is also open and fully operational 24/7. Besides the usual duties of keeping the boys safe and helping them overcome the challenges that prevent them from living safely at home, extra staff are on hand as the youth are now attending school on the campus.
These are just some of the ways the team at Hathaway-Sycamores is answering the call to help during COVID-19. As Manners says, “There are many obstacles to overcome, but through all of this, we are proud to be serving the needs of our children, families, and young adults at a time when they need us most.”