The COVID-19 crisis has created unparalleled disruption in the education, social development and mental health of school-age children. The negative consequences of school closures and the shift to online learning last year have disproportionately impacted low-income and students of color. They also suffer more from the loss of the stabilizing effects and positive adult relationships that keep students in school.
As students have returned to in person this fall, schools across our community are confronting dramatic increases in behavioral issues. With so many students impacted by stress and disruption in their social development, staff in many locations are struggling to create a safe environment for students .
To combat this, Neighborhood House’s School Age Programs pursued grant funds from the Oregon Early Learning Division. These stabilizing grants aim to help child care programs that were impacted by the pandemic. Each of our four sites are utilizing this grant funding to pay for salaries, program supplies, PPE equipment, and more. In particular, this additional funding will help our programs hire more staff to ensure children are supported emotionally in the wake of COVID-19’s disruption.
Abby Scott, School Age Program Manager, said of the additional funding, “We are working to be supportive of social and emotional skill building. After the impacts of kids not being in school last year, we will be able to hire more staff to provide this kind of support for the students.”
Additionally, a recent expansion will allow us to serve even more children from working families. School Age Programs have been safely serving nearly 200 children at three, North and Northeast Portland schools. After a year-long, competitive process, our School Age Programs were selected to expand into Chief Joseph Elementary, another North Portland school. In the future, this site could serve as many as 60 children.