The below article appeared in the Post and Courier on Sunday, September 26, 2021. To read the article on their click here.
Commentary: Families are stressed, struggling from COVID. There’s help available.
BY BEVERLY HARDIN
Sep 26, 2021
Most years back to school seems routine: shopping for school supplies and some new outfits, haircuts and slowly starting to get back into a routine for early mornings and nights filled with after-school activities and homework.
But things are far from routine following the past year and a half. This pandemic shut down schools, forced many parents or caregivers to work remotely and required youth of all ages to continue their studies via digital platforms. It has been disruptive for all of us, and it has created confusion, health scares and stress that many of us had only imagined previously. If you click here you can read all about stress related articles. An August Kaiser Family Foundation study found that parents report “notable adverse impacts of the pandemic on children’s academic and social development.” Four of every 10 parents of children ages 5 and up reported that at least one of their children fell behind academically. Among Hispanic parents and those with lower household incomes, five of 10 parents felt that way. About a third say their child fell behind in their social and emotional development and experienced mental health or behavioral problems due to the pandemic.
Not surprisingly, more than half of parents said the pandemic appears to have taken a mental health toll. Mothers, black and Hispanic parents, those with lower incomes and parents whose household experienced a work disruption due to increased childcare needs have been particularly affected.
As we’re trying to get our lives back to some sense of normalcy and our children back to school, what support do families in the Lowcountry have to deal with the ongoing strain and additional mental, emotional and educational challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic?
At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, as everyone was just beginning to grasp the impacts it would have on our daily lives, I stumbled upon an old Fred Rogers quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ”
Thankfully, I didn’t have to look very far. Heroes come to work every day at Carolina Youth Development Center, ready to offer critical support and services for families and children in our community and provide a safe, healthy residential setting for children and youth who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.
During the past year, we have adapted some programs to offer virtual options, as we continued to deliver critical in-person services and expanded counseling and other therapies to address the anxiety, stressors and other hardships exacerbated by the pandemic.
Now more than ever, families need treatment, support and tools to help them remain strong and together. Our Strengthening Families program helps families develop positive discipline practices, stay resilient in tough times, reduce conflict, improve parenting skills and assist children with social skills, relationships and school performance. This month, we launched our fall series and have families joining us for 14 weeks of guided parenting support.
Carolina Youth Development Center’s Family Support Center, in the George Williams building on the center’s North Charleston campus, is focused on providing Lowcountry families with the support and services they need to remain intact and thrive through programs and counseling services. These include community-based prevention services delivered in-home to increase a family’s ability to parent and handle everyday stressors, and guidance in building a support system for the family to help increase parents’ confidence in their caregiving abilities; family therapy to address trauma and create open lines of communication in ways that benefit the family as a unit; and individual therapy to help assess and address individual trauma, well-being and mental health.
These are all free services available to families in our community. Often, the biggest threat to family health and well-being is access to care, so knowing these resources and supports are available can and often does make all the difference. The helpers are out there. You just have to look for them, and many at our center are ready to serve South Carolina’s families.
Go to cydc.org to learn more about our services and support for children and families or how you can help.
Beverly Hardin is CEO of Carolina Youth Development Center.