IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE PHILADELPHIA CHILDREN'S ALLIANCE
In response to the COVID -19 pandemic, while maintaining on-site services for emergency cases, PCA reconfigured its program to reduce health risks to clients, PCA team members, and city partners. PCA immediately purchased essential equipment and technical support contracts which allowed staff to connect remotely with the children and families the Alliance serves. In the Spring of 2020, PCA formed a Return to Work Task Force Team which includes leadership representation from all departments. The team’s goal was and remains to provide guidance to PCA’s workforce in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team relies on CDC recommendations, OSHA, federal, state, and local mandates, as well as employee feedback to develop a comprehensive guide for some essential PCA employees to work safely at the office and for most of the staff to make the shift to work from home.
The core responsibilities of the Task Force Team, which meets regularly to determine needs to comply with laws and mandates, while still supporting children and their families, are to:
Establish and implement safety measures and guidelines in compliance with the CDC, OSHA, Federal / state and local mandates and updates as needed;
Respond to and report employee-related COVID-19 cases;
Create and implement COVID-19 policies in response to the pandemic;
Address employee concerns and questions regarding COVID-19 workplace concerns; and
Provide ongoing, internal communication regarding COVID-19.
PCA’s immediate response to the pandemic included critical planning and constant communication, leaving PCA with a bright outlook to begin re-emerging and returning to a different type of work environment. PCA was able to maintain business continuity including its FY 21 budget, avoid involuntary attrition due to COVID, and have limited COVID-19 infections impacting the workplace.
Although PCA had a small staff working onsite throughout the pandemic, additional staff have returned onsite in a staggered approach since June 2021. Since then, staff follow a hybrid scheduling approach working onsite 2 or 3 days a week to continue to allow flexibility and safety while they service children and their families. PCA continues to prioritize the safety of their employees and families they support and continues to respond to the constantly changing impact of the pandemic. While PCA is safely increasing on-site operations, the Alliance recognizes the great value in maintaining the virtual program developed in response to the pandemic. Not only will these protocols remain in place for the immediate future, but they will provide a new level of flexibility to care for clients post-COVID. PCA has already begun to implement its enhanced methods of tele-communications into a broader, more aggressive organizational strategy that expands outreach and connections with children and families and provides even greater access to services.
1. PCA’s guidance for the community on helping to protect children from abuse during times of social distancing and school closures
2. PCA’s guidance for professionals in Child Advocacy Centers regarding a time of increased vulnerability for children
3. Tips for parents and caregivers from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network on how to cope with and prepare for a disease outbreak
4. The City of Philadelphia’s guide to the children’s crisis system and accessing help during a behavioral health crisis
5. Access 24-hour crisis hotlines such as suicide prevention and domestic violence as well as information about food access, utilities, evictions and other issues during the Covid-19 pandemic at www.communityresourceconnects.org
6. Collection of resources for immigrant families with children with topics ranging from food assistance to legal resources, and more here
Fun things to do while everything’s closed during the coronavirus outbreak
Parent guide: Resources to keep kids busy (and learning!) during Philly’s COVID shutdown
Finding fun in quarantined Philly: Neighborhoods band together to create ‘rainbow hunts’ for kids
important contact information
If you think you're experiencing a life-threatening or severe emergency, call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Department otherwise use the following phone numbers to report an incident:
Child Abuse Hotlines
NEW JERSEY: 1-877-652-2873