Community Care in Times of Uncertainty: Remember Human Services

COVID-19 has presented our health and human services sectors with a unique set of challenges unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. As we grapple with what must be done to take on the challenges ahead, it is more important than ever to acknowledge the interconnected nature of community care. We know the critical role health care professionals play in caring for people in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We also know they are joined by human service professionals, whose work does not stop in times of crisis. Human service organizations continue to provide essential resources to our communities, including childcare, shelter and food support, and care for older adults and people with disabilities

In safeguarding and serving Illinois communities, we understand the interconnectedness of healthcare and human services, and how this work must go on — despite the effects of this new virus — when it comes to the delivery of compassionate care. This new reality is an important reminder of the need to support all of our front-line workers as they center their focus on caring for our communities.

As the largest collective voice of human service organizations in our state, Illinois Partners supports the following measures from our state and federal government that will provide support for nonprofits:

1) We commend Governor Pritzker for extending unemployment benefits to workers affected by COVID-19. This is an important step in supporting workers who do not have access to paid sick leave.

2) We support nonprofits and human service providers in any state or federal economic stimulus package. Nonprofits are businesses too, and they not only provide essential services, but valuable economic contributions to our communities.

3) We continue to collaborate with the state legislature in considering ways to ease the burden on human service providers, such as promoting a flexible approach to state contracts. We are all seeing our priorities shift and change in response to this pandemic. With many human service organizations struggling with funding, it is essential that they are not further penalized in these times of uncertainty.

We trust that our leaders will keep human service organizations in mind as they seek to support all Illinoisans during this time.

What can our community members do? In times of self-isolation, it is incredibly important to care for each other and support your community.

1) Support your local food pantry, emergency shelter, or other community based organization to bolster their capacity during this time. A number of human service organizations in our coalition are canceling their spring fundraising events. If you were planning to go (or even if you weren’t) consider an online donation.

2) Social distancing — we know you’ve heard it a million times, but stay home if you can, to protect those who must work, particularly, the people who are serving our communities and those most vulnerable to the virus. Even if you are a healthy adult, social distancing will protect our neighbors, friends and family members who are most at risk.

3) Care for your neighbors, take care of your mental health. Call your neighbors and friends, share your resources, and take care of each other. Here’s the NAMI mental health hotline if you or someone you care about needs support.

Resources

Here is a link to key resources on COVID-19 for human service organizations.

Questions for agency leaders

If you have COVID-19 related questions, please fill out this form for coalition partners and it will be passed on to agency leaders.

Lauren Wright: Illinois Partners for Human Service

Written by

Because Human Services Matter to ALL of us.

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