In March of this year, Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) entered into an unprecedented time for children’s residential care –– navigating everyday life during a coronavirus pandemic. The protocols to ensure the safety of the children as well as staff members have long been in place. BCH was prepared to insure the children followed an effective quarantine regiment while helping each child feel safe. Staff members shared with the children needed information about the importance of social distancing, washing hands and other precautions.
As soon as public schools were closed, BCH’s staff members across the state embraced “Stay Home...Stay Safe.” Our childcare workers added to their daily roles as cottage parent: school teacher, activity director, guidance counselor. Cottage parents rapidly made contact with the children’s teachers and received instruction to help the children go online to continue their education. Not all things are done online and cottage parents assisted elementary children with reading, math and geography assignments. Children also do regular homework for their classes. A “new normal” school routine was established.
During the week, children wake, eat breakfast and begin their school day in the cottage. Lunch is served at noon and in the afternoon children participate in indoor and outdoor activities that include: softball games, playground activities, scavenger hunts, board games, hiking, and fishing. The children also spend time reading, playing computer games, and watching television. It is important to keep the children active during the day.
Like all children, BCH’s children have had lots of questions. What is happening? Will my family and friends be safe?
One child asked: What happens if I get sick? Will I be sent away? We immediately assured the child, and all the children in care, that we will care for them even if they are sick. Easing a child’s fears and concerns is paramount.
Not since the 1918 flu epidemic has BCH staff members and children been confronted with such a dangerous health threat. But just as those in the past never waivered in their commitment to the children, our staff today is unrelenting in their dedication to provide for the well being of each child –– forever being an “oasis of hope” in a sea of uncertainty.
Article by Linda Morgan, BCH Statewide Director for Child/Residential Services
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