Voices and the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network are offering the latest information on COVID-19, including resources for parents on talking to their kids about keeping both their body and mind healthy, as well as ensuring you know where to turn for official information.
If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic, or your local federally qualified healthcare center. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.
The Georgia Crisis and Access Line
For immediate access to routine or crisis services, please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225. GCAL is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year to help you or someone you care for in a crisis. GCAL professionals will:
Provide telephonic crisis intervention services
Dispatch mobile crisis teams
Assist individuals in finding an open crisis or detox bed across the State
Link individuals with urgent appointment services
Text & Chat
Georgia’s youth can access GCAL’s services via text and chat through an app called My GCAL. Developed by Behavioral Health Link, the app will allow youth to call, text, or chat with GCAL 24/7/365. Help is in your pocket–just a click away. The caring professionals of GCAL are ready to help, and users can choose how they want to reach out.
Georgia’s COVID-19 Emotional Support Line
The Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line provides 24/7 free and confidential assistance to callers needing emotional support or resource information as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emotional Support Line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and others who have received training in crisis counseling.
Prevent Child Abuse Georgia’s Helpline
1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373) is a free statewide helpline that will give you information you can use wherever you live in Georgia. Callers can talk to a trained individual who cares and wants to help. If you find yourself feeling isolated, worried about your family, concerned about being alone at home with children, or in need of essential resources like food or funds for utilities and rent, please call!
We’ve compiled a list of helpful resources, including those provided by a variety of child-serving state agencies. Please note — this list is likely not all inclusive as to what is available.
The 2020 Census is STILL HAPPENING. However, in order to protect the safety of the public as well as its workers, the U.S. Census Bureau has made the decision to extend the Census by about four months. Updates and tools to communicate regarding the Census and COVID-19 can be found below.
Key messaging needs to include that the 2020 Census:
Is easier than ever! The Census asks 9 questions, and takes 10 minutes or less to complete. Anyone can complete it at anytime online at my2020census.gov or by phone. If you have received a paper form, you can mail it at anytime.
Is more important than ever! The results of the Census will determine the federal funding Georgia receives, impacting healthcare, food access, and education.
Should count everyone where they were supposed to be on April 1, 2020! Many populations (like college students, young children, etc.) have been displaced from their usual place of residence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone should be counted where they were supposed to be the majority of the time.
DFCS offices are open and in operation, but the Division is reducing in-person operations. It is encouraging users to opt for self-service options to access:
Georgia Gateway, the eligibility determination system for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Child Care and Parent Services, Food Stamps/SNAP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Women, Infants, and Children/WIC;
Child abuse and neglect reporting;
Foster care services; and
Food stamps, TANF, and child care subsidies.
SNAP and TANF March through August renewals have been extended for six months. MA and Peachcare renewals for March through October have been extended for six months.
Plans for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year are developing — GeorgiaCAN put together a comprehensive list of current re-opening plans which can be found here.
Department of Education
“The Georgia Department of Education, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health, has developed guidance to support districts and communities in determining their plans and strategies for reopening schools. Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schoolsprovides a tiered approach with clear, actionable steps that are advisable before students and employees return to school buildings, along with guidance that is applicable throughout the 2020-2021 school year.”
Patient Advocate Foundation has a COVID Care Recovery Fund which delivers $500 in direct financial aid to eligible patients who need non-medical, cost-of-living help as a result of their diagnosis of COVID-19.
More than 500,000 of Georgia’s children don’t know where their next meal is coming from. See our factsheet here. And even more than that, many rely on the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program for low-cost or free lunches during the school year. During the summer, there are other programs that Georgia’s most vulnerable children rely on for nutritious meals. That means an interruption like this one can be devastating.
The USDA has approved two waivers, submitted by the Georgia Department of Education, to extend alternate meal service flexibility. This will allow schools to serve students’ meals through USDA-approved meal service options, at state-approved sites throughout the community. This is similar to the way schools and districts offer student meals during the summer months.
Text FINDFOOD (or COMIDA en espanol) to 888.976.2232. The prompt will request ZIP and street address (also works with ZIP only) and then the system provides the three closest food distribution locations with contact information.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has offered guidance to homeowners and renters on relief options, protections, and common scams.
Georgia Legal Services Program provides free attorney assistance to clients for housing & benefits issues (and more) to people in all 154 counties outside metro Atlanta. New clients should call 1-833-GLSPLAW.
If you received an improper assessment of your property within the last 45 days, you have a right to file an appeal.
There are tax exemptions for low income senior (65+), low income residents in Fulton county, disabled veterans, and surviving spouses of veterans, peace offices, and firefighters. This link provides more details of exemption requirements.
A full list of Georgia’s service postponements is available here. (updated July 21, 2020.)
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency is working with a non-profit partner to provide connectivity in rural communities. Learn more here. For individuals lacking connectivity, they can submit a request here.
Georgia Power committed to suspending disconnection of power due to non-payment through the pandemic, as long as it “continues to impact customers in the state”. Atlanta Gas Light, Georgia Natural Gas, and all the gas marketers were under a Public Service Commission ordered moratorium on cancellation of services due to non-payment. (04/07/20) However, the Georgia Public Service Commission voted to reinstate disconnection for non-payment starting 07/01/20.
Most Georgia schools are offering a virtual/remote learning option for the 2020-2021 school year. Plans for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year are developing — GeorgiaCAN put together a comprehensive list of current re-opening plans which can be found here.
Here is a list of some available online resources for online learning and teaching:
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. To stop the spread of COVID-19, people are being asked to social distance, quarantine, or isolate themselves. We’ve compiled some resources to help you work through those thoughts and feelings, as well as offer some resources you can access to care for your mental health. Please note — this list is not all inclusive as to what is currently available in terms of virtual services.
Children and teens can react on what they see from the adults around them. If parents and caregivers are dealing with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can be more reassuring to those around them, especially children.
Keep in mind: not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:
Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
Excessive worry or sadness
Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
Poor school performance or avoiding school
Difficulty with attention and concentration
Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
Unexplained headaches or body pain
Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
There are many things you can do to support your child:
Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
Exercise can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety, and more. It relieves stress and can boost your overall mood. Many fitness professionals are transitioning to virtual workouts and personal training via video calls. Below are some places you can plug in to stay active. Please note: this is not an all-inclusive list of what is available.
Planet Fitness is live-streaming workouts at at 7 p.m. EST every day. If you can’t make it live, the workouts will be available on-demand on Facebook and in Planet Fitness’ YouTube channel. No equipment is needed, and the classes last 20 minutes or less.
Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus, SARS CoV-2. COVID-19 was first detected in China in December 2019, and has now been detected in more than 100 locations across the world (as of 3/16/20), including all 50 states.
Anyone can catch COVID-19. The good news for kids is that very few severe cases have been detected among children in the countries most affected to date (as of 3/16/20). Others, especially those over 60 years of age and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, are at a much higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications. Source: Georgia Dept. of Public Health
COVID-19 is highly contagious and is primarily spread by droplets. It is a new virus, which means there is little to no pre-existing immunity against it, and we don’t yet have a vaccine. The World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic.
How to Explain Coronavirus to Your Kids
This is an uncertain, and potentially scary, time for children. Here are a couple of things you can do to ease your child’s fears. PBS Kids offers some practical advice:
Don’t be afraid to discuss the coronavirus. Many children have already heard about it, so don’t avoid talking about it. That can actually make kids worry more. This is an opportunity to talk about facts and filter the news to your child.
Be developmentally appropriate. Don’t volunteer too much information. Instead, try to answer your child’s questions. Do your best to be honest and clear. If you don’t know, that’s okay. Being available is what matters the most.
Take your cues from your child. Ask your child if they have any questions and invite them to tell you what they may have heard and how they feel. You want to be prepared to answer (but not prompt) questions.
Deal with your own anxiety. Kids pick up on your feelings. Take some time to calm down before trying to have a conversation or answer your child’s questions.
Be reassuring. Children may hear enough to make them worry that they’ll catch it. Reassure them by telling them the best way to stay well is to wash their hands and cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze.
Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. An important way to reassure kids is to emphasize the safety precautions that you are taking. We know that the coronavirus is transmitted mostly by coughing and touching surfaces. The CDC recommends thoroughly washing your hands as the primary means of staying healthy. So remind kids that they are taking care of themselves by washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the length of two “Happy Birthday” songs) when they come in from outside, before they eat, and after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or using the bathroom. Here’s a fun activity to show kids WHY it is important to wash your hands.
Stick to routine. This is particularly important if your child’s school or daycare shuts down. Make sure you are taking care of the basics just like you would during a spring break or summer vacation. Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy.
The New York Times also published an article on how to talk to your kids about coronavirus. Read it here!
Here are some resources you can use to talk to your kids about Coronavirus and how to stay safe: