The world is different but OUR PRIORITIES remain the same.
For 230 years Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC)’s mission has been helping children and youth in our community reach their full potential. Our team of dedicated and passionate staff use evidence-based teaching methods, personal interactions and model healthy behavior and relationships to help our youth and families improve their overall well-being. When we support our youth and families we support our community and together we thrive.
The world has changed with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. What was once “normal” will never be the same. We’ve added words like “pandemic”, “personal protective equipment” and “social distancing” to our everyday vocabulary.
While the uncertainty of the future and fear of the many unknowns we face may have increased over the past several months, so has our commitment to our mission and those we serve at CYDC.
Here is how we are responding…
The health and safety of our youth is our top priority. Just days after the first cases were reported in South Carolina and immediately following the Governor’s issuance of a State of Emergency declaration, CYDC closed its campuses to all nonessential visitors. We also helped our youth request furloughs from jobs and navigate paperwork associated with federal or state funding to those out of work due to the pandemic. Our staff ordered extra medical supplies including gloves, hand sanitizer, hand soap and cleaning supplies. We also hired a local vendor to sanitize and deep clean each cottage and common area, and they will continue to do so for at least the next 6 months.
Shortly after all public schools were closed for the foreseeable future, our activities staff put together daily schedules, set up tutoring, weekly activities including themed days, parties for each cottage, special meal delivery and more.
While our 2020 budget included the addition of an onsite nurse, we felt there was no better time to prioritize that addition to our team. In mid-April, a nurse was hired and now works part-time, visiting each campus regularly, to ensure each and every youth remains in good health.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers
Our staff are helpers. Throughout this pandemic, they have stepped up to provide a sense of security for youth, who have only experienced trauma, and provided fun activities during this scary time. Our first step in supporting staff was to help anyone who needed to take a medical leave of absence from their position, request assistance through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). We had several staff that fit in the high-risk category for contracting the virus. We made the recommendation to our office staff that if their jobs could be done remotely that they move to part-time, in-office hours or work remotely full-time.
With a limited supply of face masks available for purchase, we worked with local volunteers to acquire specially sewed masks for our residential and community-based program staff who work directly with youth and families. We continue to support staff’s overall health and well-being by offering weekly wellness tips and many of them have taken on the walking challenge developed by our Wellness Committee called Steps in the Sunshine.
We’ve also continued our transition to the Teaching-Family Model of care, an evidence-based and trauma-informed, best practice treatment approach. Our facilitator, Jeff Boguslofski, recently trained our staff and leadership on the model’s innovative approach to relationship building. In light of the implementation of the model, CYDC will be restructuring its organizational chart over the summer to better meet program standards and serve our youth.
We could not provide the level of care we have in the past few weeks without our dedicated staff. To show our appreciation, we implemented a bi-weekly staff bonus and recognition program in order to keep them engaged and let them know we are grateful for them.
Our doors are still open. We are still here for our community and accepting new residents in our residential programs. We see our community in need and are committed to continue operating in order to serve families and at-risk children across the Lowcountry.
While we have had to cancel several of our signature fundraising events and campaigns due to recent stay-at-home orders, we are still pursuing and applying for grants and donations in order to cover additional costs resulting from this pandemic. We have been fortunate to receive several grants including one from the Coastal Community Foundation earmarked for staffing needs, including overtime costs and supplies for cleaning and sanitation of the campus.
CYDC has a long history in Charleston and we plan to be here for years to come. We are doing as much as we can to continue to serve our youth, our staff and our community. Despite current events, our future is bright and we are optimistic about the things we can accomplish together. But we cannot do it alone, we need you, our partners. Many of you have already stepped up in big ways and we are grateful for your support. Thank you for being part of our community and helping us continue our mission of helping children and youth in our community reach their full potential.
If you’d like to provide additional support for any of the above efforts, please consider making a donation on our website CYDC.org.
You can also stay up to date with our response to COVID-19 as well as general updates and event information by signing up for our newsletter located at the bottom of our homepage.