COLUMBUS (WCMH) — If you and your family are struggling with coronavirus restrictions, such as sheltering in place, home schooling and staying socially distant from others, just imagine what you would be going through if you were homeless.
It’s estimated more than 4,000 children are homeless in central Ohio. Family shelters, including the YWCA Family Center, are trying to meet the changing needs of families during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s one stress, one kind of trauma to come into a homeless shelter ,but it is another type of trauma to come into a homeless shelter when there is a pandemic going on,” said Paula Neal, Program Administrator at the YWCA Safe and Sound Child Care Center.
Neal says there are new families coming into the shelter every day. Right now, there are 59 children under the age of 13 living at the shelter and missing school.
“Navigating homelessness is one thing, but one thing that was consistent in their life was school” said Neal.
Neal added there were no computers available to help the children keep up with distance learning until IGS Energy donated 25 IPads. Additionally, central Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty launched a new digital program, with the help of a friend she calls “Happy Bear.”
“We’ve actually made it into a YouTube video and we’ve posted a link,” Beatty said. “We are also sending it out to shelters. Our first trial shelter is our local YWCA Family Center.”
Happy Bear helps Beatty read to children and explain the importance of things like handwashing.
Below are links to the programs, which she hopes will help other families with young children.