COVID-19 Family & Community Resources

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 updating you on what’s going on in the General Assembly and ensuring you know where to turn for official information.

On this page you’ll find:

Georgia’s COVID-19 Hotline

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.

Hotline:

(844) 442-2681

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!

Latest News on COVID-19

The Georgia General Assembly will resume the 2020 Legislative Session on June 11, 2020. In a memo to House membership, Speaker David Ralston also announced in-person committee meetings are allowed to resume on Tuesday, June 2nd.  Read the memo from the Georgia House of Representatives Committee on Reopening Here

While dozens of bills are pending, the only bill legislators have to pass is the budget. State agencies were told that, as a result of the cost to the state of the Coronavirus pandemic and falling state revenues, each agency should submit a plan to reduce its spending by 14% (totaling $3.6 billion) for FY2021. Even programs and sectors which were exempt from cuts in the budget direction, prior to the pandemic (Medicaid, education, etc) are no longer exempt. The memo was sent from Governor Kemp’s budget office and leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

Click here for the latest on COVID-19 from the Department of Public Health.

Helpful Resources

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.

Census 2020

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 now open for self-response until October 31, 2020. For households that have not yet responded, in-person visits by Census workers will begin August 11, 2020, and continue until October 31, 2020. If you wait until after August 11, 2020 to respond, a Census worker may visit your home to help you complete your form.
  • 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.

Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS)

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;
  • Adoption services;
  • Child abuse and neglect reporting;
  • Foster care services; and
  • Food stamps, TANF, and child care subsidies.

Guidance to Providers

Department of Juvenile Justice

DJJ has suspended visitation at all secure facilities until April 13th. Youth are eligible to receive on free phone call per week.

DJJ Information

Education

Department of Education

GaDOE’s Coronavirus webpage

School District’s COVID webpages (not all inclusive)

Online/Distance Learning Resources

School Closures

Department of Early Care and Learning

School Age Resources

Chat About Children: An Educational Series for Families

  • This series provides resources and training for families and early care and learning professionals on topics related to child development and family engagement.

Federal and Workforce

Department of Labor

Dozens of companies are looking to fill vacant positions right now.

Employ Georgia (job listings for the state of Georgia)

Department of Community Affairs

DCH is taking appropriate measures to protect AmeriCorps members, program staff, volunteers, and partners. There is no mention of how COVID-19 is impacting housing resources.

DCA’s COVID-19 webpage

Small Business Administration

SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus

Financial Assistance

United Way

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (from DFCS)

Heating Energy Assistance Team

United Way & Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Fund

Southeastern Council of Foundations – complete list of funding opportunities for individuals and organizations

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.

Food Access

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.

Georgia Public Broadcasting has compiled a list of school districts and their meal pick-up procedures: View that list here.

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.

Need Help?

Find Your Food Bank

Food Finder

Emergency Food Help

Help Map

Free Groceries – Food4Life

Free Groceries – Goodr

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.

Health

Department of Community Health

DFCS is open for business, although in-person staff is limited. Consumers are asked to call before visiting a DCH office.

Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids Information

State Health Benefit Plan Information

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Information

Department of Public Health

DPH’s Coronavirus webpage

Daily Status Report on COVID-19

DPH’s Statement on Preparedness and Response

Find a COVID-19 Testing Site

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tips to keep children healthy while school’s out

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Keeping Kids Occupied During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The AAP and HealthyChildren.org are monitoring and responding to both critical and commonly asked questions on their websites. The AAP provides guidance related to well-child visitsnewborn carenewborn screeningtelemedicine, among other topics. HealthyChildren.org offers some key resources for families including tips for positive parentingteensbreastfeeding, and more.

Housing/Utilities

Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will suspend “all foreclosures and evictions” through the end of April.

Atlanta’s mayor has issued an executive order calling for a temporary halt on residential evictions and filings for 60 days.

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.
  • The Georgia Legal Aid COVID-19 Resource List has helpful info on evictions, foreclosures, and mortgages, as well as info on other basic needs.
  • Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers provides free attorney assistance to clients facing evictions at or below 200% of the poverty rate. You can call (404) 521- 0709 to see if you qualify.
  • Atlanta Legal Aid provides legal assistance to homeowners and tenants across metro Atlanta. You can call (770) 648-4290 to see if you qualify.
  • Gateway Center has designed a COVID-19 webpage as an information hub of housing / utilities resources.
  • Housing Court Assistance provides assistance for tenants who have been wrongfully evicted from their homes.
  • United Way provides a list of organizations that provide rental assistance for those unable to pay
  • Metro Fair Housing Services Inc. provides mortgage counseling and can assist you in the right course of action related to your housing situation.
  • 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.

Utilities

Here is a current list of companies that will not turn off utilities for failure to pay (as of 4/7/20):

Amicoalola EMC: Through April 30th.

AT&T: AT&T won’t terminate any phone services for 60 days from March 13.

Atlanta Gas Light: Through April 13.

Canoochee EMC: Until April 12th.

Clayton County Water Authority: Until further notice.

Columbus Water Works: Through April 13.

City of Statesboro: Water and gas disconnections suspended for 30 days from March 16.

Cobb EMC: For 30 days from March 15. Will reevaluate after 30 days.

Coweta-Fayette EMC: Until further notice.

Dalton Utilities: For 30 days starting March 24.

Georgia Power: GA’s Public Service Commission extended a moratorium indefinitely, which means Georgia Power will not cancel service due to non-payment. Late fees will be waived. (Customers will be responsible for paying the bill eventually.)

GreyStone has extended the suspension of disconnections of service for residential members, which includes prepaid members, until April 15.

Habersham EMC: Suspension of disconnections until further notice. Late fees also suspended.

Jackson EMC: Suspended until further notice.

Macon Water Authority: Until further notice.

Newnan Utilities: Until further notice, but residents encouraged to make payments.

Norcross Power: Until April 15.

North Georgia EMC: Until further notice.

Okefenoke Rural EMC: Through April 17. Late fees also suspended.

Planters Electric Membership Corporation: until April 15.

Tri-County EMC: Suspended until further notice.

Scana Energy: Until at least April 13.

Southern Company: Until further notice.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Foreclosures and evictions are on hold for single-family homeowners for 60 days.

Walton EMC: Until further notice.

Water Utility Management: Until April 14th.

Windstream: Until May 12

Xfinity/Comcast: For 60 days, but you must contact customer service.

Legal Assistance

The following list offers legal resources:

Protecting Yourself from Scams

Officials are warning of financial fraud linked to COVID-19. Here are some helpful resources:

Avoid Coronavirus Scams (Federal Trade Commission)

Known COVID-19 Scams (Justice Department)

Recursos en español

¿Porqué no puedo ir a escuela?
https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/emergency/docs/School-Closed_Story_SP.pdf

Hable con sus hijos sobre el COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Un recurso para padres
https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/NASN/3870c72d-fff9-4ed7-833f-215de278d256/UploadedImages/PDFs/02292020_NASP_NASN_COVID-19_parent_handout_Spanish.pdf

Cómo hablar con los niños sobre el coronavirus

https://childmind.org/article/como-hablar-con-los-ninos-sobre-el-coronavirus/

Enfrentar el COVID-19: recursos para padres

https://childmind.org/enfrentar-el-covid-19-recursos-para-padres/

GUÍA DE AYUDA PARA PADRES Y CUIDADORES PARA AYUDAR A LAS FAMILIAS A ENFRENTAR LA ENFERMEDAD CORONAVIRUS 2019 (COVID-19)

https://www.nctsn.org/resources/parent-caregiver-guide-to-helping-families-cope-with-the-coronavirus-disease-2019-sp

Herramientas para promover el comportamiento positivo
¡Ayúdanos a tener un buen día! Estrategias positivas para familias
https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/Family-Strategies_Infographic_SP.pdf

Ayúdanos a mantener la calma
https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/Stay-Calm_Infographic_SP.pdf

La tortuga Tucker toma tiempo para detenerse y pensar en casa
https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/TuckerTurtle_Story_Home_SP.pdf

Herramientas para promover el aprendizaje en el hogar
Diversión en casa con los niños preescolares. ¡Preparándose para leer!

https://illinoisearlylearning.org/es/tipsheets/homeactivities-sp/

¡Lea con su pequeñito!

https://illinoisearlylearning.org/es/tipsheets/readtoddler-sp/

¡Los niños pequeños necesitan jugar!

https://illinoisearlylearning.org/es/tipsheets/importanceofplay-sp/

Abuelos que crían a sus nietos: desde los 12 hasta los 24 meses

https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/166-abuelos-que-crian-a-sus-nietos-desde-los-12-hasta-los-24-meses

Nuevas Consideracions De Duelo Durante COVID-19

https://katesclub.org/uploads/2020/04/COVID-Grief-Spanish.pdf

Resources in Other Languages

The GSU School of Public Health’s Prevention Research Center has compiled COVID-19 information sheets (from CDC & the International Rescue Committee) in 25 languages

For students and families that are hearing impaired, the CDC developed a series of American Sign Language videos that offer important information about COVID-19:

Answers to Questions from Children about COVID-19

Keep Children Healthy during COVID-19

Use the Coronavirus Self-Checker

When to Get Medical Care

Parents Supporting Children

Managing Stress

Online Educational Resources

By Executive Order, all Georgia school buildings will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Parents are tasked with completing assignments online and finding educational opportunities for their kids. Internet service providers will provide free wi-fi through, at least, mid-May and school districts are working to get internet access to their students.

Here is a list of some available online resources:

Managing Your Mental Health

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.

Helping Kids in Stressful Times

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.

Learn more about helping children cope.

The above excerpt is from the Centers for Disease Control.

Virtual Fitness Sessions

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.

COVID-19 Overview

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.

Who is at risk of catching COVID-19?

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

Why is everyone so concerned? Isn't it just the flu?

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.

If kids aren't at high risk, why are schools closing?

In his March 12th press conference, Governor Brian Kemp made it clear that daycares, schools and school districts can close schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While challenging, this is actually a good thing. It shows our public health system is working. By closing schools, canceling ]events, working from home and avoiding crowds, we can help prevent the virus from spreading quickly. This is a strategy called Flattening the Curve. Slowing down the spread of the disease means hospitals are less likely to be overwhelmed with critical patients all at the same time, which is what is happening in Italy right now.

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!

Resources

Here are some resources you can use to talk to your kids about Coronavirus and how to stay safe:

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