In light of Governor Polis declaring a state of emergency and confirmation of 33 cases across 10 Colorado counties as of yesterday, we want to provide you all with additional COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) information and guidance (see also the information and resources we sent out last week on our new COVID-19 resource page here).
Changing how you deliver services or handle staffing or considering/getting prepared to do so?
Consider the following:
- Getting intakes or other paperwork or similar tasks caught up now so advocates can support survivors with food, emergency financial assistance, landlord or employer advocacy, safety planning on-going, etc. if/when the outbreak escalates further.
- Setting up phone/video conference/web chat services if you don’t already have them for shifting meetings and/or certain services from in-person to remote participation in line with social distancing recommendations by public health officials.
- Rotating a skeleton crew on-site and pausing some in-person services (e.g. hospital visits, on-scene response) or offering them remotely through phone or video conferencing (e.g. support groups, legal clinics, individual advocacy). Please remember that continuing essential services for vulnerable populations is critical while also implementing strong, comprehensive sanitation protocols.
- Shifting to remote or mobile advocacy and connecting by phone/apps/web chats with survivors safely and confidentially. If you’re not sure you are using best practices or are not sure how to use technology safely and confidentially, here are a few resources from the National Network To End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Project, including two new ones specific to public health crises:
- Agency’s Use of Technology: Best Practices & Policies Toolkit: https://www.techsafety.org/resources-agencyuse
- Using Technology to Communicate with Survivors During a Public Health Crisis: https://www.techsafety.org/digital-services-during-public-health-crises
- How to Operate as a Remote Workplace During a Public Health Crisis: https://www.techsafety.org/remote-work-public-health-crisis
- The CDC has a resource for homeless shelters with some good information and printable posters & fact sheets that can translate to our shelter work, too: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/plan-prepare-respond.html
- Our economic justice advocacy matters. For survivors, they may begin to lose work hours or jobs (especially if working in our service economy), housing, access to food (no school lunches, food banks shuttering). Prioritize getting flexible, emergency financial assistance out ASAP, food assistance, and long-term housing assistance for survivors who may be or will begin experiencing these types of losses.
- Consider limiting or cancelling in-person meetings and large events, and stopping all non-essential work travel for the next 2-4 weeks.
Not sure how to do any of that? Contact us for technical assistance https://www.violencefreecolorado.org/what-we-do/technical-assistance/request-technical-assistance/ or contact one of use directly. We are considering hosting a video conference soon for peer sharing, Q&A, and public health info for DV programs, so stay tuned for an update on that.
What’s the impact on your program? Survivors and families? Violence Free Colorado is in communication right now with the Domestic Violence Program at the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Office for Victims Programs at the Department of Public Safety. Tell us what you need and what survivors say they need to stay safe and get by.
Also, El Pomar Foundation announced today the establishment of the Colorado Assistance Fund (CAF). CAF is a $1 million fund offering immediate aid to nonprofit organizations supporting Colorado communities, organizations and individuals affected by the recent outbreak of COVID-19. Grants from the fund will be distributed to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations or government entities supporting access to appropriate healthcare and meeting basic human needs such as food access, rent and utilities assistance, and emergency services for individuals and communities impacted by the virus. Find more information here: https://www.elpomar.org/
What about grant contract requirements? If you reach a point where you may not be able to fulfill some of your grant deliverables, you may want to request a waiver from your state funding contract manager. Stay tuned for more developments as we wait to hear from your state funders about what they can offer and how they plan to respond to the outbreak.
Will Violence Free Colorado still offer training & support? Yes! We are still developing our plan for trainings and other events coming up in the next month or so; but most will go forward, though some may be by video-conference or webinar instead of in-person. Look for updates by email to registered participants and on our website: https://www.violencefreecolorado.org/what-we-do/training/
We will continue to round up resources for you, which you can access through the COVIDD-19 specific page of our website: https://www.violencefreecolorado.org/2020/03/covid-19-coronavirus-information/
However, as the situation changes, guidance will vary from state to state, sometimes even community to community. The guidance will also be different depending on available resources. While we will continue to distribute general guidance and items specific to DV program concerns like confidentiality, at this point it is very important for programs to monitor and follow the guidance of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and their local health departments and emergency management systems as those rules will likely get more specific and evolve quickly:
How can I reach Violence Free Colorado? Email or phone, same as usual: firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 831-9632. Some staff are already working remotely, and we are in the process of developing our own plan, which will likely involve a period of remote work for all staff. Also, as you develop plans in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, please share them with Violence Free Colorado staff via email@example.com so we can compile all your great ideas and share them out with your peers.
Remember, you are oh so smart and great problem-solvers!
Be well and keep in touch,
Amy Miller (she/her/hers)
Violence Free Colorado