Amidst a global pandemic and political unrest, our work with Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children and families has been stronger and more impactful than ever. As we put 2020 behind us, let’s take a moment to reflect on all that we, with the support of our community and our partners, have accomplished.
When March 2020 came, our lives and our work changed in ways none of us thought possible. Our staff, equipped with laptops and zoom technology, figured out how to work remotely, and in many cases balance homeschooling for their children at the same time. Our services did not stop. Through creativity and commitment to our mission, we were able to figure out how to meet the needs of our clients. While classrooms and home visits paused, virtual visits and support became the everyday norm.
We formed a COVID task force comprised of agency leadership and external consultants to help inform, develop and implement the many new safety-related protocols that were needed in order to successfully re-open classrooms and services for hundreds of children and families.
We formed a COVID response team, accessible to staff 24/7, to coordinate the implementation of decisions made by the Executive Team related to COVID while communicating and disseminating new and ever-changing information in a timely manner.
Our Policy Council and Board of Directors remained engaged and committed while guiding and supporting our work. Unable to meet in person since February 2020, our governing bodies convened virtually every month to provide operational oversight.
Early on in the pandemic, it became clear that our families were struggling at an alarming rate in order to meet their basic needs. Of particular concern was food insecurity. We responded by providing emergency assistance and meal distribution to hundreds of families. Thanks to the collaboration with our generous community partners, our dedicated staff delivered meals from local restaurants to families in need.
In an effort to deepen our anti-racism work, we invited staff to join together in discussions and listening to build upon the ways we can improve equity and inclusion across the agency and with the clients we serve. This work will continue in 2021 as we form a guiding group committed to leading these efforts.
Despite the challenges of 2020, we experienced much success. To name a few, we were awarded a new contract to improve access to high-quality infant-toddler child care in communities that need it most. Virtual graduation ceremonies were held for families in our Nurse Family Partnership and Healthy Families America programs. After two years of hard work, these families have taken the steps to ensure their children have a great start in life and an even brighter future. We also celebrated with a talented group of fathers who completed our Dad’s Training Program allowing them to enter the workforce with new and marketable skills.
As the year came to a close our annual holiday drive was in high gear. Our team and our donors helped over 1200 families experience a joyous holiday in a particularly bleak year.
And let’s not forget to mention we again won Best Places to Work!!!
We have accomplished so much, yet we have much more to do as we develop the leadership, fundraising, technology, community, talent, services, financial resources, and strategy necessary to continue as the innovative leader for vulnerable young children.
Dana Mullen, Chief of Programs