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Addressing Basic Needs

Struggling Parents & Caregivers Get Vital Support from CCFH during the Pandemic

A September 2020 NPR poll revealed skyrocketing rates of job loss and financial insecurity for families with children during the pandemic. In particular, it showed:

  • 61% have parents or caregivers who lost jobs, lost businesses, were furloughed, or had wages or hours reduced
  • 44% reported using up all or most of their savings during the coronavirus outbreak
  • 76% of households with children making less than $100,000 reported facing serious financial problems
  • 59% reported having serious difficulties caring for their children

These effects have been disproportionately high for Hispanic and Black families with children: 86% of Hispanic and 66% of Black households reported serious financial problems compared to 51% of White households.

The level of stress in a household has a profound effect on a child’s well-being and healthy development, and financial insecurity is a powerful driver of parental stress. At high levels, parental stress is not only a health risk for a child, but also a safety risk.

This is why a primary concern for CCFH’s home visiting programs has always been whether parents are able to meet their family’s basic needs such as food and housing. And in the current crisis, our social workers and nurses are seeing locally the same extraordinary increase in financial distress revealed in NPR’s national survey. More parents are out of work, and so many families are struggling to pay rent that our staff feel they are witnessing a hidden housing crisis rippling through the Durham community. It is often hard for them to determine which of a family’s multiple needs to tackle first, and meeting those needs is further complicated by the digital divide. Most applications for benefits and other forms of support must now be submitted online, and many low-income families do not have sufficient internet access or the necessary devices.

One bright spot in this challenging landscape, though, has been the Family Support Fund. Because of the generous response from donors during the spring 2020 appeal, CCFH’s three home visiting programs and the Urbaniak Clinic have had more funding to help meet the basic needs of families than in previous years. With precautions in place for social distancing and contactless drop-offs, CCFH staff are making weekly deliveries to families with resources such as grocery store gift cards, bus passes, diapers, formula, breastfeeding supplies, and other childcare essentials.

Although these resources are not sufficient on their own to overcome the financial distress these families are suffering, they provide critical short-term relief along with reassurance that their needs are not going unnoticed.

Below: Gina, a nurse with Family Connects Durham, prepares and drops off much-needed household goods to families with young children.

Posted on December 8, 2020