Last Thursday, we co-hosted The COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall for girls and gender fluid youth of color with Black Swan Academy, YWCA National Capital Area and DC Coalition for Girls. We learned so much from Dr. Mariam Savabi, MD MPH and Necole D. Martinez and, especially, all the girls and gender fluid teens who were honest about their challenges and insightful about solutions.
Our time together was inspiring and informative, yet a reminder that the crisis we face is much graver for it has exposed the fragility of systems that have not worked for decades for the communities in which we serve. Though local governments and schools have responded as best as they are able, this pandemic is devastating to vulnerable families. Yesterday we asked the teens “what can we do?” And they answered.
They shared real mental health challenges: the struggles with self-isolation, of not having a schedule, of worrying about their parents, their community and missing the comfort of predictable routines.
They shared frustration with school: the challenges of dealing with uneven expectations and access to technology and teachers, of balancing school with new home responsibilities.
They shared their solutions: including the need for access to masks, hygiene and required products; of safe housing for community members who need to be quarantined and also for the homeless. They had ideas of how the government can be responsive, of how caring adults can encourage, how parents can access resources, of how together, we can create a community of care. And in their telling they showed us a way forward, a way we can work together to connect, encourage and grow these next generations of people.
At Crittenton we see a way forward. Core to our success is a caring adult providing judgement-free support, information, recommendations and referrals. While this has been essential to program delivery it is proving to be vital to responding to the current crisis. As have partnerships. We have an opportunity to work together, activating on Black Swan Academy’s call to action by signing the survey. LINK HERE http://thepeoplesdemandsdc.com/
At Crittenton we will continue to support girls in group and individually, make referrals and recommendations to the resources they need. We will test the idea of a senior-only group to address some of the real loss seniors are feeling as their graduations are canceled and colleges possibly postponed. We will continue to collect data on the individual and collective needs of 600 girls with a focus on their safety and mental well being. And we will continue to connect with incredible partners like you.
I look forward to connecting with many of you in the days and weeks to come as we navigate the unknown change and if we are persistent (and a little lucky), real opportunities to create real change for girls of color in the DMV.
President & CEO
PS: Check out our Virtual Town Hall and hear for yourself the challenges girls and gender fluid youth of color are facing by listening to the recording HERE. (Access Password is L8^&11.7)
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 crisis has shaken us all up. The very fabric of life as we know it has been transformed into a new, less favorable normal. As the dynamics of our country have changed with lockdown and stay-at-home orders, so too have the dynamics of home life. Parents are working from home, furloughed, or newly unemployed. With school closures, children—from daycare to college-aged—are home too. Families are juggling the tall task of finding a new balance, with limited resources, and heightened anxieties.
What is also clear, is that individuals across the country are feeling the consequences of these changes to varying extents, and in varying ways—and oftentimes those experiences are closely intertwined with the intersections of their gender, race, and socioeconomic status. This begs the careful consideration of how the changing home dynamics brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are specifically and disproportionately impacting girls of color—and particularly girls of color from low-income communities. For one, it is having a huge impact on how girls of color are being asked to show up as everyday caregivers to keep their homes afloat.
Black and Brown girls are and have always been natural leaders in their schools, their families, and their communities. While continuously at odds with the structural and systemic barriers put forth by the many traces of racism and patriarchy in the U.S. system, they are innovative, ambitious, and solutions oriented. Because of their lived experiences, they are often wise beyond their years. We can all learn something in trusting their leadership.
But Black and Brown girls are also—too, often—the first to feel the brunt of the crisis in a way that, if not called out, can go unseen. In the world of COVID-19, girls of color are being asked to show up in new ways, with new responsibilities. Girls who still have to show up as students, in the new virtual classrooms that they may or may not have good access to. Girls who, though perhaps not or never employed themselves, are now at home balancing school and labor.
We’ve heard from so many of our girls—as young as 12 and 13—the new roles that they’re juggling while at home under lockdown. They have become the dominant care-provider for younger children in their homes, helping siblings adjust to home-school-style learning, aiding in the morning and nighttime routines, and assisting with homework help. They are supervising playtimes, changing diapers, mixing bottles, and putting babies down for naps. And they’ve been showing up for elderly grandparents, great aunts, and great uncles, too: supporting them in complex medication regimens, preparing their meals, aiding them in getting dressed and moving around.
And beyond just their homes, they are stepping up to support child care and elderly care efforts in their communities, for neighbors and community members who are essential workers, and must leave home during the crisis, with no other access to home care. Middle and high-school girls, unpaid, are working around the clock to support their families and communities.
While there is no clear solution to this dilemma, it’s important to understand the implications. It’s important for teachers and school leaders across the country to deeply understand that the circumstances of students across their virtual classrooms are not the same. Shifting education from classrooms to living rooms is not just a change in location—the COVID-19 crisis has changed the responsibilities and priorities of so many families, including young girls.While there are indeed homes across the U.S. where children can remain mostly-sheltered from the many impacts of this crisis—where a change in daily routine does not mean a change in duties or labor—that’s just not the reality for too many girls of color. So, let’s see girls for their leadership—when they rise to the occasion because they want to, or because they have. And let’s provide them with the additional support that they’ll need—mentorship, additional academic support, trauma-informed approaches to instruction, grace—to persevere through these times.
To learn more about Crittenton Service of Greater Washington and to support their work, please visit their website.
Siobhan Davenport is President and CEO of Crittenton Services of Greater Washington and has more than 16 years of experience working with youth that face structural barriers. With her leadership, CSGW launched its Declare Equity Initiative, focused on the inequities that girls of color face in schools through D.C. Metropolitan Area.
We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well in the midst of challenging times. I’m checking in with an update about how Crittenton Services can be of service to you and your families during these uncertain times.
Throughout all of this, our goal is to not only meet the current needs of our girls but also to continue to provide the support that help them achieve long-term wellbeing and self-sufficiency. We have compiled a resource guide of services that are available to you and your families to help during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
You can download the resource guide below for additional information on:
Virtual Activities Resources
Free Meals/ Groceries
Mental Health Support
I welcome any questions, ideas and conversations. Please feel free to reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 301-565-9333. I look forward to learning from you and discussing solutions as we dig deep to new find ways to support our girls during these challenging times.
Please join us in partnership with The Black Swan Academy, DC Coalition For Girls and YWCA National Capital Area next Thursday for a Virtual Town Hall Open discussion for girls of color and gender fluid youth of color to hear from a medical expert on the facts about the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as learn stress management techniques and self-care strategies from a licensed therapist.
This is a safe space, where the teens and young women can share concerns and challenges that they’re facing, and feel empowered to lead our community in thinking through the responses, solutions and actions that they and their families need. Please share with any youth you know that may be interested.
MCPS To Provide Extra Meals for Students on Wednesday, April 8.
This week, due to the upcoming spring break, MCPS will provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for all Montgomery County children and MCPS students (regardless of age) today, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8. There will be no meal service Thursday, April 9, through Monday, April 13. On Wednesday, April 8, families will be provided with an additional meal bag for Thursday, April 9. The additional meal bag will include items for breakfast, lunch and dinner and will be available at all meal sites. The meals are not shelf-stable and will need to be refrigerated. MCPS meal service will resume on Tuesday, April 14. For a complete list of meal sites, please visit the MCPS Meals Service webpage. Women Who Care Ministries will provide weekend meals for families on Friday, April 10, from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. at their Montgomery Village site located at 19642 Club House Road, Suite 620, in Montgomery VIllage. More information can be found here. Manna Food Center will distribute weekend food sacks on Saturday, April 11. The time and locations will be posted on the MCPS website on Friday, April 10.
Chromebook and Wireless Hotspot Distribution To Take Place April 8 MCPS is providing additional opportunities for students to obtain a Chromebook or a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device for remote learning. For students who submitted a request to their school last week, devices will be available for pick up this Wednesday, April 8, from 1:30–4 p.m.These devices are available by reservation only. Students whose devices are ready for pick up will receive a message from MCPS letting them know where to pick up. Additional opportunities to obtain Chromebooks and mobile hotspots will be provided the week of April 13. If you did not have an opportunity to submit a request to your child’s school for the April 8 distribution, please contact your school to be added to the list for the next distribution.For families without internet access at home, Xfinity is providing free access to their Wi-Fi public wireless network. The Xfinity network should appear as an option when you attempt to connect devices to Wi-Fi at home. For a map of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, visitwww.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, select the xfinitywifi network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser. These are typically available even from within someone’s home.
The CORONA-VIRUS outbreak has exacerbated many of the issues that educators and community leaders face under normal circumstances. Here’s how they can adjust their programming to support vulnerable communities.
SIOBHAN DAVENPORT Crittenton Services of Greater Washington
As federal, state, and local authorities work around the clock to mitigate the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), those of us who work in education and other community-based sectors grapple with a new reality: How do we adequately care for the young people we’ve pledged to serve?
Identifying solutions is the top priority for Crittenton Services of Greater Washington. At Crittenton, we empower girls to overcome obstacles, make positive choices, and achieve their goals. We work with nearly 600 young women from the 6th to 12th grades, many of whom face structural barriers at the intersections of their race, gender, and zip codes.
We are fully aware of the challenges and barriers our girls face under normal circumstances. Through research from our Declare Equity for Girls report, we learned from young women—the experts in their own lives—that school environments, home and community stressors, and high rates of absenteeism all contribute to low academic achievement. The COVID-19 outbreak has only exacerbated these issues.
Here are the key ways to ease the transition for the communities we serve.
1. Set and maintain a consistent presence and schedule
Prior to COVID-19, our program leaders ran weekly group sessions in schools with our girls, focused on leadership, advocacy, and social and emotional learning. We created space for girls to connect, learn, and thrive. Now, with D.C. schools closed, girls are adjusting to countless shifts in the normalcy of their lives—interrupted learning and diminished access to resources.
For many girls, they’ve been pulled away from the relationships that ground them. This comes with the backdrop of parents being furloughed, taking unpaid leave, or losing jobs, and families balancing the competing needs of childcare and parent-care in multigenerational homes. For all of us, crisis and uncertainty brings stress and anxiety that can be tough without adequate access to mental health services. At Crittenton, this is a time to show up with and for our girls now more than ever. We’ve continued our program in a virtual format during the shutdown in order to remain a stabilizing force in the girls’ lives. We’re meditating together, discussing self-care, and creating accountability groups. We’re working to bridge technology gaps so all of our girls can have this access and support.
2. Adopt multiple modes of communication
Inequities can grow when we’re all in crisis. The digital divide in the U.S. will leave many students behind as society transitions to remote life and distance learning. My team has resorted to email, texts, individual phone calls, video chats, and group chats with apps like House Party, to keep in regular communication with our girls in lieu of in-person contact. All modes are necessary because digital integration is limited and inconsistent within the communities we serve.
According to Pew Research, 26 percent of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 a year are “smartphone-dependent,” 46 percent lack a traditional computer, and 44 percent don’t have access to home broadband service. Thankfully, numerous telecommunications companies have stepped up to offer free internet service to allow more families to connect during the outbreak, but that is just one piece of the puzzle.
3. Be a resource for timely and credible information
In less than three weeks, the COVID-19 situation has devolved from “take precautionary measures” to nearly every state issuing shelter-in-place orders. It is easy to get lost in the abundance, speed, and accuracy of information. In our case, one of our girls posted in a group chat that she read on the internet that the coronavirus comes from Chinese food. Before school closures, another student shared that her class went into a frenzy after a student sneezed from seasonal allergies. Everyone, especially those of us in leadership positions, must be discerning with our words and the information we share.
At Crittenton, we’ve chosen to only share information directly published from our local government, the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and trusted affiliate organizations. We find families want information about COVID-19 protocols, education plans, and meal distribution and other support sites should they experience an emergency. We’ve had 15 families, 115 adults, children, and babies run out of food and two students lose their jobs in less than a week.
Normalcy, reliability, and predictability are some of our greatest comforts in uncertain times. While we don’t know how long the COVID-19 outbreak will last, I have full confidence that my fellow educators and community leaders will do what we’ve always done—rise to the occasion.
Crittenton Services of Greater Washington students (Image: Crittenton Services of Greater Washington)
America’s education system has been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis. As a result of the new normal, underserved students and their families are heavily relying on educators, family support specialists, and agencies for educational support and access to basic essentials.
Crittenton Services of Greater Washington is a 132-year-old organization that supports 600 girls in the Washington metropolitan area. The organization’s mission is to empower teens to overcome obstacles, make positive choices, and achieve their goals through strategic programming and resources. The organization houses a team of researchers that focuses on equity for young women of color within the education system. In their latest study, The Declare Equity Report, the organization highlighted the disparities that young women living in vulnerable communities face like safety concerns within the household, and being distracted at school because of the need to assume adult responsibilities, and push out.
Amid the current health crisis, we spoke with Siobhan Davenport, president and executive director of Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, about how she and her team are finding ways to engage program participants, creating digital communities/safe spaces during social distancing, and partnering with parents to help their children continue their education during this time of uncertainty.
Siobhan Davenport, President and Executive Director of Crittenton Services of Greater Washington
SHOWING UP FOR THE COMMUNITY
How are school closures impacting the young women that Crittenton serves?
During this COVID-19 pandemic shut down, we are specifically concerned about the young ladies that we serve and keeping them engaged in school. March 13th is when our schools were closed suddenly. And one of our funders reached out to us and we had a conversation about what role we can play just besides delivering our programs. We talked about some of the factors that we knew our teen girls face in their family, so they gifted us a $5,000 grant called The Emergency COVID-19 Funds. And immediately on that Friday, our girls were reaching out to us.
They wanted to ensure that we were still going to have programs because in some cases our program leaders are their trusted adult. They meet with them weekly throughout the entire school year in groups of about 15 to 18 teen girls. So, there’s a lot of trust in built up in those groups. And of course, it’s a safe space for our teen girls.
We immediately said, Yes, we will continue to deliver programs, we’re just going to have to do it a little bit differently and be creative in that way.
The COVID-19 crisis adds another layer of trauma and anxiety for many underserved communities. How is your team responding to the young women and their families who are facing new insecurities because of the school closures?
The girls were reaching out and were concerned about food insecurity. We had three girls who lost their jobs. Restaurants were closed and a lot of our girls work in entry-level jobs. And for our girls, those part-time jobs actually contribute to the well-being of their household. So, this is a major blow to the family.
Parents have reported to us job loss as well and reached out to say, ‘can we get emergency food and essential supplies,’ which we were able to do and thus far we’ve helped 40 families and 181 parents, children, and babies.
Our young ladies have reported inadequate Wi-Fi access or just simply not having a device computer in the home. Both of our school districts are looking at ways in which to distribute tablets, but we had to kind of fill in the gap and we let one of our families borrow a Chromebook because the dad needed to apply for unemployment benefits and didn’t have access to that.
CREATING SAFE SPACES
Crittenton Services of Greater Washington students (Image: Crittenton Services of Greater Washington)
School is a safe haven for many students and a reliable resource for parents as they work. What are some of the ways that the organization is helping students and their families adapt to being home together?
We have a very structured curriculum, and it just so happened that part of the curriculum currently is on what is a healthy relationship, and that means your family, your friends, and of course significant others. Our program leaders are putting a heavy emphasis on that.
We’re really focusing on healthy relationships and communication. The program is steeped in social-emotional learning core competencies. We talk about identifying emotions. We’re all at high emotion at this point in time. We’re intentionally starting each session with self-awareness check-ins.
Our program leaders are helping our students with self-meditation, deep breathing exercises, and challenging them to continue to practice that throughout the week and then report in through the group chat or when they’re on a Zoom call to talk about how they’re managing their stress in a positive, productive way.
Family support is critical during this time as parents and guardians adjust their lives to become substitute teachers, providers, and everything in between. How can organizations like Crittenton support families during these times?
A big concern for parents is that the school structure is being lost. Parents are depending upon teachers to be the source of help for their children. And now all of a sudden, they’re thrust in that role.
We have parents who have English as a second language. They’ve actually come to our program leaders to have them translate how to access information for their children. There’s a lot of responsibilities that parents are taking on. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to go in learning what the schools are doing, what our school systems are asking for, and be able to help parents and guide them as they try to navigate the website and access the work that their daughters are doing. We’ve been on multiple fronts trying to anticipate and be a source of trusted information. For our families and our teen girls.
STAYING CONNECTED DURING ISOLATION
At Crittenton,young women are able to build community. How is the organization maintaining that sense of connectedness during social distancing?
Part of positive youth development principles is letting the youth lead. When we initially started conversations with our girls, we talked to them about how they want groups to meet. We were experiential and just tried different methodologies of reaching the girls.
Some program leaders said, ‘I’m just going to switch my platform to Zoom whereas other program leaders have said, the girls said they don’t want to download anything else taking up more memory on their phone and they’re already on Instagram Live and we’ve had a great response reaching them there.
As it relates to social-emotional learning, how is Crittenton helping the young woman understand this national moment of crisis, with all of the different layers of trauma that are experienced?
Our program leaders have been having conversations with our girls so that they get a sense that this [the pandemic] is bigger than their community. That part of social awareness of social-emotional learning is key in building empathy.
It is our obligation to follow those social distancing rules. I know it’s inconvenient and it’s not how they want to communicate. They actually want to be in school. They are reporting that they are bored, want structure, and want to be able to see their friends face to face.
We’re trying to help them understand that we are actually doing each other a great service by maintaining the social distance.
If you are interested in learning more about the resources offered by Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, visit its website for free tools and resources.
With schools being out due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, organizations that support students, like Crittenton Services of Greater Washington (CSGW), have had to find creative ways to engage and encourage their youth, while staying true to its mission. Despite the unique issues presented with the unprecedented spread of the virus and new demand for “social distancing”, CSGW, a program that helps vulnerable girls in sixth through 12th grades, and its President and CEO Siobhan Davenport, are committed to helping their pupils and even providing further support outside of their normal work during this difficult time in the city, nation and world.
“We have moved our school based programs online and are meeting weekly with our teen girls, using various social media platforms [including] Party House and MeetMe apps, Skype, Zoom, etc.,” Davenport told the AFRO in an exclusive interview. “For some of our most vulnerable girls, we are providing a daily check in via individual phone calls or text.”
These larger group and personal check-ins, as a result of coronavirus, have become a digital subset of CSGW’s 132-year-old program and the larger National Crittenton organization, which comprises of 26 sister agencies, with a base in Portland, Oregon. There are 600 girls ages 12-19 in CSGW’s program, from Washington, D.C. (primarily Wards 5,7 and 8) and Montgomery County.
Under normal circumstances, Crittenton Services of Greater Washington “meets weekly over nine months in 43 groups of teen girls from the sixth through 12th grades,” Davenport said. “We offer a curriculum that is based on social and emotional practices, trauma informed, and incorporates positive youth development principles.”
Despite the new style of support and mentorship, CSGW’S mission and commitment continues.
The online and virtual programming, as well as regular check-ins through phone calls and text, have been integral for both the girls and the staff at CSGW. However, not all students have digital capabilities.
“According to Pew Research, 29 percent of adults with household income below $30,000 don’t own a smartphone, 44 percent don’t have broadband service, and 46 percent lack a traditional computer. Our educators and leaders must think about accessibility and equity in this environment,” Davenport said.
Crittenton Services of Greater Washington is stepping in where digital access is limited.
“We are providing chromebooks for any of our girls who are participating in distance learning or need to complete schoolwork at home. For girls in need of Internet access, we are providing free or reduced priced Internet resources to them and their families, such as Comcast Internet Essentials. The abruptness of the move to distance-learning has really exposed the digital divide that exists in this country,” Davenport said.
As the young ladies often turn to CSGW for help and solutions, remaining a reliable source of information has also been key to their digital transition.
“There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet right now so it’s more important than ever for us to communicate timely and reliable information,” Davenport said. “We have created a list on our website of valuable resources, such as up-to-date COVID-19 information and food distribution sites for our teen girls and their families. Additionally, we have adopted a multi-channel outreach plan (email, phone, text, social, group chat, etc.) to ensure our girls and their guardians have multiple touch points.”
As many of the girls in the program already face challenges, the coronavirus pandemic has become yet another trial for the young women to face.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the challenges our girls faced under normal circumstances. So we are emphasizing routines and self-care and resources for stress management, (including five core competencies: Self Awareness, Self Management, Responsible Decision Making, Relationship Skills, and Social Awareness),” Davenport explained. “This helps the girls maintain a routine and give some semblance of order.”
With some of the financial hardhships, CSGW is stepping in.
“Schools are closed, which means access to nutritious food is limited. We have been able to provide non-perishable food items, water, diapers, formula, wipes and gas cards to 21 families, impacting 100 adults and children,” she said.
“In the last few days, we have been made aware that some parents and guardians, in addition to our teen girls have either lost their jobs or had their hours severely reduced. Our teens work to help support their households so this loss of income is devastating,” Davenport added.
The organization received a $5,000 donation from V&S Foundation, which they used to create a COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support some of the girls. “We are looking to match funds and raise $10,000 total,” Davenport said.
In order to protect the health of Montgomery County residents, and comply with orders from the State of Maryland, the following service modifications will be introduced beginning Monday, March 23, 2020.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will transition primarily to providing services and conducting eligibility screenings through phone, fax, online applications and email. Walk-in services will only be provided in the case of emergency and/or for families with children seeking emergency shelter. Any other individuals that come directly to any of the offices will be redirected and given the opportunity to schedule a phone interview. On-site services will be limited to housing/shelter emergencies only.
To request an appointment, please call 240-777-1003. Phone lines are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For applications for the Maternity Partnership, Care for Kids, Senior Dental and Montgomery Cares, see below: English Spanish
If you have other eligibility questions, please call 240-777-1003 for additional instructions.
Housing Stabilization Services: Services for emergency housing needs, including homelessness prevention services and housing related financial assistance with eviction, foreclosure and utility disconnection. To request a phone interview, please call one of the following offices. Document drop-off stations are also available at each office location. You may also be eligible to apply for some services online.
Silver Spring Office 8818 Georgia Avenue 240-777-3075 240-777-3154 (FAX)
Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP): Provides utility grants and shut-off prevention to eligible households. Applications may be completed online. Paper applications, and a document drop box is also available at 1301 Piccard Drive, 4th floor. Document drop-off boxes are also located at each of the housing stabilization offices. Phone appointments may be requested by calling 240-777-4450.
Rental Assistance Program (RAP): The Rental Assistance Program has extended all benefits scheduled for renewal between March-May 2020 to continue through July 2020. This will provide staff and applicants additional time to respond to document requests and to process applications. During this time, documents can be dropped off, or mail to Department of Health and Human Services, Rental Assistance Program, 1301 Piccard Drive, 4th floor, Rockville, MD 20850. Phone interviews may be requested by calling 240-777-4400 .
March 25, 2020 The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.
As schools across the Washington, D.C. metro area announced closures, Siobhan Davenport and her colleagues at Crittenton Services of Greater Washington (CSGW), a nonprofit that seeks to empower teen girls, began receiving dozens of calls and messages from middle- and high-school girls concerned about how the novel coronavirus would impact them.
At first, girls asked for information about the coronavirus itself and how school shutdowns would affect their access to school resources. But, as the days have gone on, more are worried about the basics, from job loss to food scarcity.
“Two of our young ladies have lost their jobs. For the majority of them, that income is essential to running their household,” said Davenport, who’s the executive director of CSGW. “They’re concerned about their jobs. They’re concerned about their parents’ job.”Sign up for the Future of Learning newsletter
CSGW, based in Washington, D.C., works with over 600 girls, in grades six through 12, from low-income and at-risk backgrounds. CSGW leaders hold weekly after-school programs providing girls with support to “overcome obstacles, make positive choices, and achieve their goals,” according to the organization. As schools closed, the organization had to pivot its in-person programming and services and go online immediately to address the social and emotional needs, including social isolation, of the girls it works with.
As the country adjusts to a new reality of social distancing and life in quarantine due to fears of the coronavirus, the move from brick-and-mortar classrooms to an online world — or no school at all — is sparking anxiety and fear, not just for kids and teens but also for their parents and caregivers.
Davenport said the girls want to stay engaged with the organization because program leaders are often some of the most trusted adults in these teens’ lives.
“It’s almost like a sister circle, they want to maintain contact with each other. They want to maintain contact with the program leaders during this time,” said Davenport. “Even though this generation is very much social media savvy, they still miss that face-to-face personal contact.”
Davenport and the program leaders are keeping in touch with the girls through calls, group and one-on-one chats and emails, but plan on using video chats as the primary means of communication. The teens have suggested social media apps like Houseparty, a group video chatting app, and classic video platforms like Zoom.
Experts say it’s important for parents and caregivers to provide children with social interactions, even when they may not be able to interact in person with their peers.
Jacqueline Ancess, co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools & Teaching said one of the ways to help kids manage social isolation may be through online activities being provided by some schools, or through informal means like CSGW’s online weekly group meetings. Just because “we’re supposed to say six feet away from each other,” Ancess said, “doesn’t mean that we need to be socially isolated from each other.” (NCREST is based at Teachers College, Columbia University; The Hechinger Report is an independent unit at the college.)
Ancess said parents can use Google Hangouts or Zoom to engage younger kids. “A friend of mine gets her grandchildren on Google Hangouts or Zoom and they spend time singing together or they bake,” she said.
Lynne M. Celli, executive director of leadership and professional education at Endicott College in Massachusetts, said parents and caregivers can also give “the old fashioned way” a try.
“The simple writing of a letter. Encouraging students to write letters to their friends that they aren’t seeing on a regular basis and putting it through the snail mail. I mean that seems sort of simplistic where we have such sophisticated technology, but I think incorporating everything that we can have at our disposal, to keep those social groups alive and well … it’s the most important thing,” Celli said.0/250
Ancess said adults should help children and teens talk about their emotions and understand their feelings so they can learn how to manage them. “Provide them with opportunities that teach them how to manage their feelings.”
Adults can help kids manage anxiety and stay engaged in school by trying to keep to a routine or develop a schedule, whether students are going completely online or doing take-home packets or a combination of both. “There is routine when they’re in school and there should be a routine at home,” Celli said. She added the family unit can design these routines, building social interaction into them. Celli suggested families go hiking and biking, play board games, paint or read and that parents and caregivers encourage kids to find new hobbies, if possible.
“That’s the fun part of the learning and that reduces anxiety,” Celli said.
Davenport said CSGW is working with teens to create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals and teaching them what it means to be self-motivated. The girls share goals with each other, which helps them to be accountable and remain engaged with school.
Also key to helping kids manage anxiety and fear during uncertain times? Adults should acknowledge their own anxieties and give honest answers to kids’ questions about what is happening. Adults need to be “aware of their own behavior because children of all ages can pick up on our cues immediately and recognize that we’re anxious,” said Celli.
She added it’s important for parents and caregivers to have open communication with kids, but to keep in mind that they need to speak to children at their own developmental or cognitive level. “I know it can be very scary for adults and it can be very scary for children,” Celli said. “I can’t underscore (enough) self-awareness and self-regulation for adults.”
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MCPS is providing laptops to students with a need to ensure they can access instruction from home.
Laptop distribution will begin Thursday, March 26. Devices are in limited supply and are reserved for students who do not have access to a computer or laptop at home.
To pick up a laptop, students (or the parent/guardian) will need to present their student ID (or provide the student ID number). Distribution locations are organized by school level. Complete instructions as well as distribution dates, times and locations are listed below and on the MCPS Coronavirus Information website. Students and parents can also call 240-740-7023 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for information.
Important Note: For families without internet access at home, Comcast is offering free internet access through its Internet Essentials program. More information about this program is at https://internetessentials.com/. MCPS also has a limited number of mobile Wi-Fi hotspot devices that provide access to the internet. These devices will be distributed at a later date.
High School Students: Pick up at the school that the student attends.
Middle School Students: Pick up at an elementary school close to your home (use the School assignment locator if you do not know which elementary school is assigned to your community).
Elementary School Students: Pick up at the school that the student attends.
Students in Specific Programs: If the student is in a magnet or Choice program, a regional special education program (such as School Community Based or Learning For Independence), or in a program at any of the sites listed below, a laptop can be picked up from any elementary school close to your home.
We strongly encourage that an adult accompany any student who wishes to pick up a laptop.
If you are unable to pick up a laptop during the distribution days, MCPS will provide information on additional opportunities for laptop pick up in the coming days.
Instructions for Parents/Students for Distribution Day If you are in a car, please hold up the student ID or write the student ID number on a piece of paper big enough so that staff can read it through your car window or from six feet away. The staff person will record your student ID number and assign you a laptop.
If you walk up to the distribution site, please have the student ID or ID number ready. The staff person will record your student ID number and assign you a laptop.
Remember to follow social distancing guidelines when you come to pick up a laptop (keep six feet between people). Please follow directions from MCPS staff who will be helping to manage traffic.
Students provided laptops will be subject to the Notification of Laptop Responsibilities form (see linked document below).
It is with deep regret that we inform you that Crittenton Services of Greater Washington will be postponing our 2020 Talk With A Teen Girl High Tea, originally scheduled for Thursday, April 23rd, to a date to be determined. Our team has been in close communication with local public officials and we have collectively decided that this postponement is in the best interest of public health and safety.
Please know that we continue to serve our 600 teen girls by moving our program delivery on-line. Now is a critical time for our services, especially as our teen girls are experiencing increased stress, social isolation, job loss for themselves and family members and food scarcity during this pandemic.
As we continue to monitor the Corona-virus situation very closely, we are coordinating with our staff, schools and communities and adhering to the standards and regulations outlined by the CDC. Depending on the state of public health later this spring, we are aiming for a rescheduled High Tea in early June. We are excited about having our young ladies participate, learn and grow from the caring adults at the table for the High Tea in a safe and healthy environment.
We know just how special of an event the High Tea is and hold so much gratitude for the community that has developed around it. That said, these are unprecedented circumstances and we must prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of our teen girls and our community.
We thank you for your continued support as we move forward in the face of these difficult times and we look forward to seeing everyone at our next High Tea. Some of you have reached out to ask how you can help our teen girls during this challenging time. The V&S Foundation generously provided on Friday, March 13th a $5,000 grant for an emergency fund. We are seeking to match those funds. In just one week, we have helped 22 families and 102 adults and children. If you would like to help, please donate, in any amount, to our COVID-19 Emergency Fund by clicking this link HERE.
MCPS is providing free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for children 18 years old and younger, and all MCPS students (regardless of age) at more than 40 sites (including mobile locations) throughout the county. Additionally, MCPS school buses will distribute meals in several communities.
Girls at several middle and high schools in Washington, D.C., in wards 5, 7 and 8 were already handling more challenges in their lives than many teens face.
They live in neighborhoods with high crime, high unemployment and low incomes.
Some have responsibilities at home caring for younger siblings, filling in for parents who are working. Some are teen parents themselves.
When schools closed a week ago and many businesses followed suit, the challenges increased. High school girls began to lose their jobs, said Siobhan Davenport, executive director of Crittenton Services of Greater Washington. The organization provides youth development programming for girls in eight D.C. and twelve Montgomery County, Md., schools.
On Monday, at least two girls in the program lost their part-time jobs at Burger King and Subway as those businesses closed, she said. Other girls scrambled to understand what was happening. They worried that their families wouldn’t have enough money for food, Davenport said.
Eight program leaders at Crittenton Services run the weekly after-school programs that provide girls with support in overcoming obstacles, making positive choices and reaching their goals, according to the organization.
When leaders checked in with the girls via phone and text, there were plenty of questions, Davenport said. How does coronavirus spread, exactly? Can you get it from Chinese food? (The answer is no.) One girl left her laptop computer at school. How would she get it?
Crittenton focused on providing accurate information about the virus on its website and through program staff.
Initially program leaders rushed to address problems such as whether the girls had the supplies they need for an extended period without school. Another problem they saw was that schools might not even have updated contact information on all their students because of address and phone number changes, Davenport said.
“Girls were concerned about food scarcity,” she said. Almost immediately, program staff delivered gas cards and food to 12 families, she said.
Program leaders are checking in with the students using text messages and various apps. They’re looking at using multiple channels of communication, Davenport said. They’re emphasizing self-care and maintaining a consistent schedule, even as they worry about girls in difficult home situations.
“For some of our girls, their home environment is not a safe place,” Davenport said, referring to emotionally abusive relationships.
Program leaders may be the only — or one of the few — trusted adult in the lives of some of the girls, she said. The leaders also are concerned that girls practice social distancing and avoid getting together with friends in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
GIRLS DON’T FEEL SAFE AT SCHOOL, HOME
A survey of 71 girls and additional alumnae of the program, published in 2018 as the “Declare Equity for Girls” report, presented girls’ view of conditions in their schools and community.
Girls said they were frequently “put down,” as fellow students and adults make comments about their bodies and clothes. These comments reinforced negative stereotypes experienced by black girls, the report said. Girls described their schools as places of “drama” involving bullying and fighting.
They said their school environment was not conducive to learning and that their home and family environment added to the challenge. They said they don’t feel safe and respected in their school or neighborhood.
Program leaders at Crittenton plan to hold their weekly group meetings using various online apps, Davenport said. It’s important to maintain these key connections, she said. As the coronavirus pandemic changes daily life for everyone, the organization is doing its best to respond.
“We’re all trying to figure this out. We’re building the airplane as we’re flying it,” she said.
Learn more about who we serve , our programs, vision to have a greater impact in the Greater Washington area and more about how we support teen girls in the 6th through 12th grades by downloading the report here: Crittenton’s 2019-2019 Annual Report
100 more teen girls ready to join the Crittenton family
Crittenton cannot grow fast enough to meet the needs of teen girls in our community. The good news is that we are ready to take a big step forward and expand our circle of support to reach 100 more teens this coming school year. The only thing stopping us: resources.
To overcome this challenge, we have launched a new community-initiative to increase the money to raise opportunity for teen girls. Help us reach our goal by giving to the 100 Bright Futures campaign.
This coming school year, Crittenton will increase the number of teen girls we are able to reach in District Wards 5, 7, and 8. We will launch an expansion of our Montgomery County programs to reach teens in the Eastern part of the county. Crittenton is also moving from pilot to fully-fledged program of our Peer Advocates initiative – student leaders in schools.
The sum total of all of this growth will be 100 more teens (600 hundred Crittenton teens total) who will be working hard to envision, plan for, and make reality their own bright future.
Already, a coalition of public and private support has accelerated our ability to fund our campaign. But it will take the entire Crittenton Community to help us fully fund the 100 Bright Futures campaign.
Be part of a growing crowd of supporters ready and willing to cheer on more teen girls to reach their potential.
For more information on the 100 Bright Futures campaign, please contact Megan Rognrud at email@example.com
For 10 years, Crittenton Services emerging leader training programming has worked to hone girls’ leadership, advocacy, and communication skills. As the scope and capacity of this work has grown, we created a cornerstone experience, an intensive weekend-long conference called the Leadership Summit.