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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parent Child Centers across the state have been providing emergency needs for Vermont families most in need.

This support includes, but is not limited to, food and diaper distribution, cleaning supplies, toys and activities, as well as phone cards, support with housing and bills and clothing. Families are supported through rides to the doctor and dentist, as well as connecting to state programs for ongoing financial support for basic needs.

Unrestricted funds are needed to support families in quick and nimble ways. If a family with young children runs out of diapers, they need to be helped at the time of need. PCCs have always been the safety net for many young families who are living in generational poverty, as well as a support to any young family in need of parenting support or basic needs.

PCC staff have been available to help when others could not. Our staff, while remaining safe by distancing and following the VDH and CDC guidelines, have not left families on their own through this pandemic. We have distributed and delivered needed foods, cleaning supplies, toys, diapers, etc. to families in need since our doors closed or our in-person programming became limited. We have continued to support families and make sure their voices are heard when it comes to what is needed for Vermonters. These needs have included phone service and data minutes, as well as advocating for internet access. There has been a need for food, since families have been home for so long. There has been a need for on-going support and connection. Our child care programs that were closed provided social media connections through private pages for children and parents to see their teachers and support staff. Activities have been delivered to allow for play and exploration with new toys or books.

PCC staff have worked to make sure needs are met and families are OK.

In a time when we have not been able to have fundraisers and solicit donations in the same way as we have in the past, the Vermont Community Foundation recognized this need and has stepped forward to help through its VT COVID-19 Response Fund. Established in March 2020, the VT COVID-19 Response Fund is designed to support collective, coordinated grantmaking efforts that can quickly adapt to changing circumstances and evolving needs.

All 15 PCCs received money in May and we have just received another generous donation from the Foundation. These funds will allow us to spend some dollars in the new calendar year, 2021, after the emergency Coronavirus Relief Funds from the federal government will be expired. We are all excited to start a new year, and this helps us on our way.

This understanding of our needs is rooted in the Community Foundation’s ability to have an ear to the ground and be involved with those agencies it supports, while having clear communication with donors.

Vermont is lucky to have such a strong Community Foundation and so many generous donors who step up to support one another. Its supporting organizations and philanthropic partners, such as the McClure Foundation, are on-point and thoughtful about their giving. The Community Foundation’s staff are connected and thoughtful. $147,500 has been donated in the past few weeks to the Parent Child Centers, and in addition, this past May, the Foundation provided the Vermont Parent Child Center Network with $295,000 in funding for vulnerable families in Vermont.

These have been stressful times for the families we serve and for our agencies, but we know that in Vermont we are supported by each other and by funders who care about our well-being. We very much appreciate this support for the families we serve.

Donna Bailey is director of the Addison County Parent/Child Center. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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