On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released a joint letter to promote family strengthening and virtual primary prevention during COVID-19 and beyond.

As federal agencies with a collective mission to improve the health, economic, and social well-being of children and families across the country, ACF and HRSA have joined together as partners to urge grantees and their state/territory/tribes and local partners to collaborate in new and creative ways to engage and support the whole family.

The letter stated:

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several early childhood programs including Head Start, home visiting and other child and family support programs have had to close their offices and classrooms or limit services. As a result, we have seen programs respond by rapidly adapting and implementing innovative practices and solutions to continue serving families through remote service delivery (e.g., via phone, text, email, videoconferencing) and other strategies. We encourage our grantees and their partners to leverage, align, and maximize federal funding and policy flexibilities offered in response to COVID-19 to connect families to what they need, strengthen early childhood systems, and plan for sustainability (see Appendix A for COVID-19 Policy and Funding Resources). Participating in state and local COVID-19 planning response efforts can help meet the needs of vulnerable children and families and the early childhood and family support workforce who are serving these families.”

Additionally, the letter addressed the positives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, stating:

“Some of these practices may live beyond the COVID-19 crisis, practices that we are finding help to build relationships with families that reach beyond classrooms and regular face-to-face visits. We can use this challenging moment to become the system that will help families individually and treats families holistically and with respect, that will keep children safe, be agile and creative to support parents and help strengthen their protective capacities, and that is fair and just. We need a system that sees ourselves in one another, a system that is rooted in kindness. We have never needed community more. If we can be there for vulnerable families now in these challenging times, we can be there for them in the future. Through partnerships, we can continue to work through this crisis to strengthen families and communities.”

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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