While no one is spared from the impacts of the current health care crisis, the effects the coronavirus hit vulnerable children and families hard. YRJ represents over 800 clients in Oregon’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems. As Oregonians are sheltering in place with their loved ones, children in foster care are unable to visit their parents because the Department of Human Services has suspended in-person child-parent visits. Due to measures to slow the spread of the virus, children in detention centers are no longer able to hug family members because they can now only visit their family through a glass window. At a time when family members are seeking comfort from one another, these children and their parents are incredibly isolated, and many are scared. As advocates, we are reaching out to clients to make sure they are heard. It is our role to do everything we can to protect their rights and to ensure that they are receiving the help and supports from the agencies charged with protecting them.
Here is some of the direct action we’ve been taking,
- We have asked the Department of Human Services (DHS) to continue to support and communicate with children in foster care, parents, and foster parents. Recognizing that the needs and resources of families vary dramatically, we focused specifically on pushing for individual solutions for families.
- We have provided input to the courts on their response to COVID-19, requesting that courts prioritize cases involving child safety, reunifying families, parenting time, review hearings for youth in custody, and speedy trials for youth in custody.
- We are working collaboratively with partners to develop and implement safety measures while also balancing the due process rights of litigants with community safety.
- Finally, we are pushing back wherever possible to ensure that vulnerable children, parents, and young people have a voice in decisions that impact their lives, their families, and their liberty.
How you can help Oregon’s vulnerable youth and families during this time:
- Stay home, practice social distancing, and wash your hands.
- Support our work to help us continue to fight for the rights of the children, youth, and parents during this crisis.
Resources for those in need:
Relief/Support Fund Resources for Families
Meal Assistance for Families & Children
- Bless Your Heart Burgers (Kids Hot Lunch)
- Laughing Planet
- Lionheart Café
- Nicholas Restaurant
- PDX Sliders
- Sunshine Division
- Preston’s Pantry
Mental Health Services
- Anxiety Tool Kit
- Mindfulness Practices w/ Psychology Today
- Multnomah Co. Crisis Line: (503) 988-4888 or toll free at (800) 716-9769
- Lines for Life Youthline: (877) 963-8491 or text “teen2teen” to 839863
- The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
- National Suicide Hotline: (800) 273-8255
- Portland Water Bureau
- NW Natural Gas
- Pacific Power
- Oregon Energy Fund (Previously Oregon HEAT)
Education/Activities for Kids