The coronavirus pandemic has taught The Children's Trust resiliency and adaptability to pivot to the needs of our community as we cope with a new normal. Throughout the pandemic, The Children's Trust has remained fully operational, relevant, effective and efficient while being steadfast in its commitment to children and families of Miami-Dade County, FL. The Children’s Trust has offered essential supports to ensure a safe and supportive environment given the ongoing challenges facing community agencies that serve children and families.
- Throughout the pandemic, The Trust has supported the UM Pediatric Mobile Clinic with continued funding in the last fiscal year to conduct COVID-19 testing and services. This allowed the testing of almost 16,000 children for COVID-19, as well as delivery more than 800 telehealth visits and more than 2,200 in-person visits during the year.
- Last year, more than 36,500 students were served with 114,039 health visits, including nursing, social work and mental health encounters, vision, oral health and body mass index (BMI) screenings. Notably, mental health visits in 2020-21 increased by 36 percent (4,599 more) from the 19-20 school year, an indicator
of the great need in this area, likely the result of the stressors associated with COVID-19 and its impacts.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact in-person school and youth development programming, food and nutrition services were able to continue providing emergency food relief at community sites and in Trust-funded youth development sites utilizing the federal Summer Food Service Program.
- Based upon the critical impact of social determinants on child health and wellbeing, The Children’s Trust invests in supports to assist families with public
benefits enrollment, inclusive of, but not limited to health insurance enrollment. With the significant economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our
community where many families already have incomes below the federal poverty threshold, these benefits are needed more than ever. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits programs continued to connect families with necessary services. Priority benefits programs supported include family-relevant federal means-tested programs, as well as other entitlement and assistance programs, including but not limited to Special Supplemental Nutrition Program to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid and KidCare (Florida’s Children’s Health Insurance Program), and Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Last year, 2,618 families were supported with enrollment in at least one benefit program. Many families are assisted with multiple benefits for several family members. In total, 6,986 benefits were approved that supported more than 3,523 children and youth.
- The Children’s Trust offers parenting programs from the prenatal period through the transition to adulthood and having launched innovative new delivery modalities during the COVID-19 shutdown, parenting providers leveraged their experiences to inform a hybrid approach to service provision in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. By adapting to the broad spectrum of needs expressed by children and families, parenting providers engaged the highest possible number of families.
- Short-term group and individual parenting services offer parents of children birth to 18 years an opportunity to connect with and support each other as they learn and practice parenting skills through weekly structured activities. Session content includes strategies for effective communication, age-appropriate child development, behavior management, child safety and injury prevention. Services are offered in varied locations across the county, with most occurring in community agencies, schools and child care centers, but last year more than 78 percent of sessions were completed virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The HERO (Here Everyday Ready and Ontime) Truancy Prevention Program is part of the countywide coalition funded by The Children’s Trust. The HERO Program identifies elementary and K-8 students most at risk and provides them with the necessary prevention and intervention services to increase school attendance and reduce risk related to youth violence. Last year, 9,902 students were engaged in intervention and prevention activities, and there were 1,135 home visits and 1,188 referrals for additional community-based services. Of the 1,356 students who participated in Truancy Child Study Team meetings, 54 percent increased their school attendance. Two-thirds of participants had passing grades in core content courses. As a result of ongoing COVID-19 impacts, the program offered additional supports such as access to internet connection and meal distributions.
$3.1 Million in COVID-19 Emergency Response Funding for 19-20 Fiscal Year
- $68,000 additional dollars went to Lotus Village, a homeless shelter for women and children to address emergency needs for the women and children in the shelter.
- $66,000 was allocated to Challenge To Change to support children in the child welfare system with an array of services that support remote learning and emotional needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $95,000 dollars were used to purchase more than 560,000 diapers to assist needy families in partnership with the Miami Diaper Bank.
- $100,000 additional funding was allocated to Educate Tomorrow, to provide emergency basic needs assistance such as rent, medicine and food for youth transitioning out of foster care.
- $200,000 was allocated for the University of Miami’s Pediatric Mobile Clinic efforts to conduct COVID-19 testing and services.
- $310,000 was used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) on three instances in partnerships with Community Health of South Florida. The equipment has been necessary to ensure the safety of the providers as well as the children and families they serve, as we continue to meet the demand for services. There were more than 500,000 PPE items, including masks, non-touch thermometers, hand sanitizers, gowns, gloves and face shields.
- $500,000 dollars were allocated to the United Way of Miami-Dade's Miami Pandemic Response Fund to provide immediate assistance to struggling families with emergency needs including rent/mortgage assistance, food, utilities as well as issue micro-grants to small businesses.
- $1,700,000 was approved for emergency expenditures across 99 programs to adjust to service delivery in order to best serve children and families.
- Authorized school-based health providers to utilize our school nurses and mental health staff to work in their clinics and main offices to increase local community capacity to address the COVID-19 crisis.
- Launched an immunization and well-child visit campaign due to reduced rates related to the challenges and fears surrounding COVID-19.
Increased Family Supports
- At the start of the shutdown, The Children's Trust launched StayHome.Miami, an interactive and comprehensive website with more than 85 pages of content, available in three languages – English, Spanish and Haitian Creole – that serves as a centralized resource for parents and the community at large during the pandemic. To date, the site has had nearly 200,000 page views. This effort was recognized by the Special Districts Award Program by Government Technology Magazine with a Technology Innovation award in the Citizens category.
- Parenting Our Children Newsletter transitioned to a fully digital platform and increased production to a weekly, rather than monthly basis to offer parents additional supports to its 51,000 digital subscribers.
- The Children’s Trust Book Club, which provides free monthly books by mail, expanded in July to enroll young children and their families from birth until their 5th birthday, reaching 21,500 children by year end.
- 2,000+ high school youth were able to gain paid, real-world summer work experience in virtual and safe in-person settings across the county through our Summer Youth Internship Program.
- $200,000/year was added for youth program inclusion and in-home respite care supports for these families based on focus groups with parents and providers about increasing the participation of children with more significant support needs in The Children’s Trust programs.
- 4,600 backpacks and 200 sets of headphones were distributed to 72 organizations as part of Back-to-school initiative.
Increased Communication and Supports for Community Service Providers
- Regular provider surveys: Hundreds of providers (with 100% response rates) responded to three major surveys conducted in April, June and August. The surveys assessed operational status, adaptive practices, challenges and support needs, as well as the needs and challenges among children, youth and families served. Further inquiry included the needs, challenges and other factors facing providers as they contemplated resuming in-person operations in the summer. And the final survey contributed to temporary modified service plans detailing how programs would meet the needs of families considering health and safety guidelines as services began reopening.
- Provider input sessions: 150 staff from contracted programs participated in five initiative-specific sessions in April, August and September to provide important perspectives that informed our contracting and service delivery policy decisions and guidance at key decision points.
- Virtual provider information sessions: 400+ participants attended each of our two sessions in April and August to share resources and assistance for navigating COVID-19. Topics included Trust contracting, invoicing and services guidelines, highlights from providers on adapted programming successes and lessons learned, and initiative-specific breakout sessions for questions and discussion.
- Provider virtual trainings: Just-in-time development of topics such as "The Big 5: Questions & Tips to Support Your Emotional Well-Being During COVID-19" and “Navigating Uncertainty: Helping Families Cope as a Result of COVID-19” for practical tips and strategies to help our providers build resilience and manage stress during this crisis, as well as a "Considering Delivering Services Through Video Conferencing" series to help providers determine when and how to use video conferencing to best serve families.
Partnerships and Advocacy
- At the beginning of the pandemic, The Children’s Trust convened a group of executive leaders who held weekly calls to further partner together to better help our community during this crisis. The group included CEOs from the Beacon Council, Miami Foundation, Florida Blue, Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, United Way of Miami-Dade, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, The Children’s Movement, Early Steps, Health Foundation of South Florida, Career Source, Marlins Foundation, Health Choice Network and others.
- The Children's Trust hosted a webinar in partnership with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and Beacon Council specifically crafted for Trust-funded providers on the CARES Act that gave information on resources and assistance available to support nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
- As part of the Miami-Dade County’s COVID-19 Task Force, Mayor Carlos Gimenez appointed The Children’s Trust CEO to lead Childcare Facilities, Summer and Sports Camps, and After-school Programs Committee. We continue to work alongside the County to review and update the “New Normal” guidelines keeping the needs of our community, providers and partners at the forefront.
- The Children’s Trust continues to advocate to ensure that Miami-Dade County receives its fair share of resources to offset the impact of COVID-19.
$6 Million in Additional Provider Supports for 20-21 Fiscal Year
- $500,000 additional funding was allocated for Family and Neighborhood Support Partnerships family emergency supports to decrease the chances or consequences of food insecurity, job loss, eviction, termination of utilities, and child endangerment often associated with increased family stressors and lack of basic needs related to food and shelter.
- $700,000 additional funding was invested in Family Strengthening programs for mental health support and trauma-informed care for youth, parents and families as they navigate the pandemic.
- $800,000 additional funding was allocated to continue to grow The Children’s Trust Book Club expansion for birth to 5 years of age, with enrollment focus on 11 ZIP codes with high child poverty and low cognitive/language development, school readiness and third grade reading scores.
- $3 million additional funding went to increase Thrive by 5 child care scholarships for families under 300% of federal poverty levels, and another $1 million for tiered program quality payment differentials for early learning programs serving families under 150% of poverty levels.