Pinellas County, FL – Amid the COVID-19 crisis, low income families with children are disproportionately impacted, and those of moderate means may now be without a paycheck. Licensed childcare for essential healthcare workers and first responders may be scarce. Financial and other stressors impact families, driving up domestic violence calls. The Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County is responding by investing in several emergency efforts, bringing partners together to identify and fill gaps.
“During any economic downturn or public health crisis, low income families are disproportionately impacted,” stated Beth A. Houghton, CEO of the Juvenile Welfare Board. “Before COVID-19, fifty percent of Pinellas families earned less than the basic cost of living, and one in five children were food insecure. I imagine it’s much worse now. Our children and families are hurting, and we are working hard to identify resources, expand investments, and plow through barriers, alongside our partners.”
Support to JWB Funded Agency Non-Profits and Their Employees
· Emergency Response Fund: Allows all 50+ nonprofit agencies – funded by JWB to serve children and families through early learning, home visiting, before/after school, domestic violence shelters, mental health services, and more – to access their budget allocations to cover operational expenses, including paying and retaining employees, should programs be required to close or reduce services due to COVID-19.
Food Assistance for Children and Families
· $200,000 Emergency Food Relief: With retail food donations down nearly seventy-five percent to local food banks, JWB is investing $200,000 in emergency food relief for children and families, to be distributed to Tarpon Springs Shepherd’s Center, Religious Community Services (RCS) in Clearwater, Florida Dream Center in Lealman, and St. Petersburg Free Clinic. Additional funds will be allocated as need presents.
· $350,000 Meals for Kids: In a proactive measure, JWB’s eight Neighborhood Family Centers were approved to double all pre-packaged meal purchases for kids; these Centers serve families in highest need areas.
· $12,000 Meals on Wheels 4 Kids: With school and congregate meal site closures, JWB is providing a portion of the initial funding for an innovative pilot with Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger to deliver meals to the doorstep of families with children when barriers exist and using the volunteer-based Meals on Wheels model.
· BreakSpot Grab & Go Meal Expansion: JWB is partnering with Feeding Tampa Bay to open additional Pinellas sites where grab-and-go meals for children can be distributed. We recently launched a new website with a schedule of all Pinellas school and community BreakSpot sites:www.jwbpinellas.org/breakspot-meals
Basic Needs Assistance to Families
· $1.7M Family Services Initiative Basic Needs Fund: JWB’s Family Services Initiative (FSI) offers real-time basic need assistance to families, including rent/utility assistance, food, and household items. While this fund is in place for access by families year-round, it is especially critical given our current crisis. To request support, families should dial 2-1-1.
For more information on food assistance for Pinellas County children and families visit:www.jwbpinellas.org/childhood-hunger.
For the Family Services Initiative for basic needs assistance, families should dial 2-1-1 or visit https://211tampabay.org/family-services-initiative-fsi/
For those wishing to donate, JWB recommends contributions be directed to the Pinellas Community Foundation and their Disaster Relief and Childhood Hunger funds; visit:www.pcfpinellas.org.
About the Juvenile Welfare Board: The Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County (JWB) has been committed to making children a priority for nearly 75 years. As a countywide special taxing district, JWB responsibly directs the community’s investments to give Pinellas County children the best opportunities to lead healthy, successful, and satisfying lives. With an impact budget of $76.4M last year, JWB invested in 53 nonprofit agencies that delivered 82 quality programs, serving 70,000 Pinellas County children and families. These programs focused on school readiness, school success, prevention of child abuse and neglect, and strengthening community. JWB also leads collective initiatives with community partners to address childhood hunger, grade-level reading, and preventable child deaths. To learn more visit www.jwbpinellas.org.