Resources for Families

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many schools have closed their doors for the remainder of the semester. This has left many families scrambling to balance newly remote careers with full-time childcare – not to mention the difficult conversations about what’s going on. To help ease the transition, we’ve pulled together this running list of resources and information to help you navigate.

Accessing Exempt Emergency Child Care

Not everyone has the luxury of working from home and the childcare options for essential workers are extremely limited. To slow the spread, Governor Baker has issued an emergency order temporarily closing all early childhood education programs across the State of Massachusetts. This will remain in effect until May 4, 2020 and may be extended as needed. Emergency child care programs authorized by EEC are the only child care programs that are allowed to operate during this time. This is in an effort to prioritizes public health and safety while maintaining critical service. Click here to see the Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs that will be the only child care programs that are allowed to operate during this time.

Access to meals

More than 300,000 students in Massachusetts rely on school meals for more than half of their nutrition. With the mandatory shutdowns, many schools are finding ways to continue providing meals to the students who depend on them. Here’s a running list of schools offering meals and the requirements to pick them up.

Keeping Kids Informed and Engaged

It’s hard to know the best way to talk to your kids about what’s going. Below are some resources to help you start the conversation plus some fun activities to keep them engaged while out of school.

Staying active with Playworks

Our awesome partners at Playworks have created a video library of interactive games to encourage physical activity, mitigate stress and anxiety and promote fun play. Playworks also recently launched a live virtual recess that happens M-F at three different times a day

  • On-Demand Video Content: Playworks Coaches lead games, Minute Movers, and Brain Breaks to support physical activity, release energy, and increase focus. Use whenever your kids might need them or organize Virtual Recess play dates with friends!
  • Live Recess Streams (M-F, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm EST): Playworks Coaches will be broadcasting Recess live on Facebook. Tune in for stretching, warm-ups, interactive games, cheers, and cooldown activities.

reading with the patriots

As we all practice social distancing, the New England Patriots and JetBlue want to make sure that all students continue their reading. We are launching a special edition of “Read Between the Lines” and are encouraging students to join them! They will be hosting a special reading blitz, encouraging students to read for at least 30 minutes a day. Check back daily for new reading videos by current and former Patriots players and cheerleaders and educational resources for students and teachers.

Accessing tele-health

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) issued emergency guidance allowing early intervention agencies to provide services to children and families using phone/video communication. These services are referred to as “tele-health”. Due to the current state of emergency and the unknown time frame that social distancing will be recommended, families are highly encouraged to continue participating in early intervention using the tele-health model. Click here to learn more about tele-health visits from Thom Child & Family Services.

FamilyWize discount on Prescription Medications

Given everything that’s happening with COVID-19, we know that it’s more important than ever for people to adhere to their prescribed medications. As such, FamilyWize has become critically important during this crisis. When you call to get a script filled or refilled, you can ask that the FamilyWize discount be applied by providing them the following information:
BIN: 610194
Card ID: FW100
Group ID: FW100
PCN: FW
CVS and Walgreens are also offering free prescription delivery so you don’t even have to leave the house.

Internet access

Lack of internet access shouldn’t stop anyone from making ends meet or continuing to learn from home. Comcast is helping all families get connected to the internet by offering two months free to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month plus tax.  

CONSUMER PROTECTION RESOURCES

Attorney General Healey released emergency regulations to protect consumers from harmful debt collection practices. Read the details here.
Attorney General Healey’s office has also put together a guide to consumer rights in Massachusetts during the pandemic for more information on employee rights, health care information, child care resources, resources for immigrant communities, protecting civil rights, small business resources, and more.

The National Consumer Law Center has also put together a guide focused on consumer protections during the pandemic. This is a good source for information on legal advocacy, legislative updates, debt collection practices, and foreclosure moratoriums.

MANAGING FINANCES

The City of Boston’s Office of Financial Empowerment is keeping a running list of resources on how to manage finances during the pandemic. This is a great source for information on remote banking, student loans, debt, housing, and more. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also regularly publishing resources in English and Spanish. Check here for the full list. Now more than ever, it is essential to keep your credit on track. We also recommend:

Seven steps to protect your credit

Our partner Working Credit has put together seven tips to help you protect your credit during difficult times. Working Credit is a national nonprofit that provides credit building education, one-on-one counseling, and access to credit building products. In Boston, BBC partners with Working Credit to bring credit building to local employers, like Boston Medical Center, as a workplace benefit. To learn more, contact Working Credit at info@workingcredit.org or call 312-339-5357.

The seven tips are listed below. We recommend reading full details on each tip on the full post here.

  1. Prioritize credit card & loan payments.
  2. If you can’t make credit card or loan payments, get in touch with your creditors – right away.
  3. If you have a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or a Federal Home Loan Bank, you may be able to put your payments into forbearance for up to 12 months – depending on your situation.
  4. If you have federal student loans, call your loan servicer and ask for an “administrative forbearance.”
  5. Once you address credit card & loan payments, turn to your other bills.
  6. If you need to borrow, it often makes sense to use credit cards. Avoid payday loans.The average interest rate on a credit card is 19%; the average (imputed) interest rate on a payday loan is 400%.
  7. Now and always, stay away from credit repair companies.

To learn more, visit Boston Builds Credit.

Legal help

To help meet the growing legal needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division has teamed up with RingCentral Inc. to a national hotline to connect the Disaster Legal Services Program (DLS) with those seeking civil legal services. People who call this main hotline are asked to identify where they live and are transferred to a state-specific hotline – if one is set up. Call 888-743-5749 for assistance.

CONNECT: Connecting Communities to Opportunity

There are a lot of resources out there right now to help you and your family during the COVID-19 crisis, but finding what you need when need it can be tough.  Use CONNECT to search for free and reduced-cost services like food, healthcare, job opportunities, benefits enrollment, rent assistance and more.

STAYING CENTERED

During these challenging times, it’s important to try to remain calm and centered. Not only does it benefit you, but it also benefits your kids, your partner and anyone else you interact with. Get started with a meditation app like Headspace or join Melissa Alexis on “Going Within” every Wednesday at 12 and 8 pm. 

Keeping informed

It’s essential to stay informed about the latest guidelines and regulations. You can follow along with the City of Boston’s updates or head to your town’s website for the most recent developments. 

Additional Support

You can help other families impacted by the pandemic by donating to our Covid-19 Family Support Fund. Or, if you need assistance of any kind, call 211 to connect to local resources.