Meeting the Needs of Children During COVID-19

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During this time, virtual learning is important, but meeting kids’ basic safety, social, and emotional needs have to take priority.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a familiar theory that shows that humans have different levels of needs, and each builds upon the level below it. In other words, the needs on one level cannot be addressed or met unless the needs at the level below it have been met.

Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, MBF will address each level and give individuals specific actions they can take in order to ensure the needs of children are met during this difficult time when kids are isolated at home.

Below are some ideas to get you started. We encourage you to think creatively about how you can do more for the kids in your life!

Basic/Physiological Needs

We must ensure kids’ basic/physiological needs are met (food, healthcare, and shelter) before we try to focus on learning or anything else. These are the basic needs of human beings and are essential to survival.

Here are the actions that you can take to ensure children’s basic needs are met:

  • Educators:
    • Ensure families who may need food have access to school or community resources. Check with your school’s social worker to ensure homeless students or displaced families are being cared for.
    • Have a community resource list available and distribute to parents. United Way 211 is a free referral helpline if you’re not sure where to start.
  • Parents:
    • Many adults have lost their jobs and are struggling financially right now. If you need help meeting yours or your children’s basic needs, do not be ashamed to ask for help.
    • Please reach out to ask for help from a trusted family member, neighbor, friend, or community agency.
  • Family, Friends, Neighbors:
    • It’s easy to tell someone to reach out if they need anything, but most of us are hesitant to ask for help.
    • Instead, if you know of a family in need, grocery shop for them or deliver a meal and maybe include a few extra snacks and/or supplies.

 

Safety Needs

To thrive, kids need to feel and be safe in homes that are comfortable, supportive, and give them a sense of security. For many kids, school was their safe place, and during this isolation at home, they are experiencing violence, abuse, and neglect. After their basic needs are met, and before other needs can be addressed, we have to ensure all children truly are “Safer at Home.” We’ve listed some ideas and resources below to help you.

NOTE: It’s also important that kids know who to turn to and how to seek help if they are in an unsafe situation at home. Don’t be afraid to talk about safety with them and let them know you are a Safe Adult that can help them. Also, make sure you provide them with resources to seek help if needed.

Send the following links to the kids in your life today:

  • Our top picks to share:
    • Text LIGHT to 741741
    • Call 1-800-4-A-Child (422-4453)

 

  • Educators:
    • Ensure you have a system in place to check with students and ensure they are safe in their homes. Distance check-ins are a great option. We’ve created these postcard templates you can print and mail or send electronically to kids to stay connected. Download them here: DIGITAL | PRINTABLE
    • All teachers, school counselors, administrators, and other school employees need to be educated about the signs of abuse and how to report it if they suspect it is occurring.
    • Also, encourage students to check in on their friends and peers – teach them what/how to report concerns.
    • Ensure students receive digital safety education to help them stay safe from online dangers during this time of increased technology use.
    • Set up a code word or phrase that gives kids a quick and easy way to let you know if they are unsafe or need help. If you are concerned about a child’s well-being, you can contact your local law enforcement office for a welfare check. Remember, as a mandated reporter, you should report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect to authorities.
  • Parents:
    • This is an unprecedented time with schools and daycares closed and kids learning virtually.
    • You may need to make new arrangements for child care and it may mean a new babysitter or a new adult or youth in your home.
    • Additionally, your kids are no doubt spending more time on their devices. However, this may expose them to increased risks from online predators. Take some time to learn how to keep them safe.
    • Also, spend time talking to your child and ask them about anything that makes them uncomfortable. Remind them that their body is their own and others must respect it. Create an environment that fosters open conversations and allows your child to feel comfortable to come to you when they don’t feel safe or if they are concerned about their safety. Always remind them that you are there to listen to them and they should never be ashamed to tell you if they’ve been harmed or if they feel unsafe about a situation.
    • And if you are struggling with parenting right now, know that it’s okay. The stress of today’s world can be great, even to the strongest person. During this time of crisis, make sure you as a parent are coping with stressors in a responsible and appropriate way. In doing so, you will be clear-minded and vigilant and ensuring that your children are being properly cared for.
    • If you need help, reach out to a neighbor, friend, family member, or community agency.
  • Family, Friends, Neighbors:
    • Check in with the kids in your life. Set up a system that works for you and that child. You can use distance check-ins as well.
    • Set up a code word or phrase that gives kids a quick and easy way to let you know if they are unsafe or need help. Be sure to report any disclosures or suspicions of abuse to your local child protection agency or local law enforcement agency.

 

SAFETY RESOURCES FOR EVERYONE:

1. Distance Check-Ins

2. Free online trainings:

3. Safety Briefs

4. Blogs worth revisiting

 

Love and Belonging Needs

Stay connected to kids at home. In addition to their basic and safety needs, kids need family, friends, and healthy connections, now more than ever. Children need caring adults in their life to foster these healthy connections.

  • Educators: 
    • Find ways to stay connected to your students and let them know you miss them and are there for them beyond their academic needs.
    • After lessons have been taught, schedule time to connect with students individually, either by phone, the online platform your district is using, or mail them a postcard with a way to contact you.
    • Also, encourage students to stay connected to their friends and peers.
  • Parents: 
    • It’s important for you to stay connected with your children during this time of high stress and anxiety for kids and parents alike. Create opportunities to discuss not only the situation regarding the virus, but other important topics.
    • This is also a great opportunity to reach out to your friends with children or your child’s classmates and peers to set up virtual meet-ups for the adults and children together. Beyond giving you the opportunity to check on kids and families, it’s a great way to foster conversations and build relationships.
    • You can find a variety of free resources online right now to help you connect with your kids.
  • Family, Friends, Neighbors:
    • Build time into your daily schedule to check on your friends or family members with children.
    • It’s important that you are not only connecting with the adults, but connecting with children as well.
    • Find safe, virtual, and remote ways to stay connected with kids: drive-by waves or thumbs up, phone calls, Facetime and video chats, virtual meetings, messages, etc.
    • You may want to do a call or check-in at the same time each night with a different relative or family friend.
    • It’s also a great way to model behavior to encourage kids to care about their peers.

Esteem Needs

The esteem needs of children are developed through recognition and feeling valued by others. Once we ensure kids are safe, cared for, and feeling connected to caring adults, it is then important to make sure we are fostering their positive emotions, responsible and appropriate coping skills, and building their self-esteem.

  • Educators:
    • Do online shout outs to students for doing good work, for staying connected to their peers, for helping a peer, etc. Take the time to find something good to say about each student and say it publicly.
    • You can also incorporate positive coping messages and esteem-building activities into school assignments.
  • Parents: 
    • Be mindful of the way you speak to your child during this time of high stress for everyone. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and frustrated with many working from home or out of work, kids learning virtually, etc., but it’s especially important right now to model positive coping skills and help children navigate this difficult time in a positive way.
    • Take this time to foster positive conversations with your child. Use open-ended questions to allow kids to add value to the conversation and share their opinions about the current situation and their needs.
    • Search online for ideas to help you with this.
  • Family, Friends, Neighbors: 
    • While doing your virtual check-ins with kids and families, you can also add some fun, positive activities.

Self-Actualization

Reaching this level is where a child is ready to rise, dream, find purpose and be the best they can be. At this level, kids are available and ready to learn, grow, and achieve goals.

  • Educators: 
    • Once you are certain a child’s needs at all other levels are met, kids will be more ready to engage in meaningful school work.
    • Continue to assign work gauged toward each student’s level to allow them to experience success and not become frustrated.
    • Ensure online conferencing, live-streaming, and other assignments are manageable and achievable.
  • Parents: 
    • In addition to ensuring your child is doing their school work, encourage your children to continue to grow and learn during this time of social isolation.
    • They can journal about the pandemic and how it’s impacting them, practice sports, art, music, etc. at home and make videos to share with others.
  • Family, Friends, Neighbors:
    • Many kids (and parents) are struggling with online learning. If you’re a whiz at math, or some other subject, set up calls/video conferences to assist with homework or to tutor kids in your life.
    • Drop off academic supplies or helpful learning games and activities on someone’s doorstep as a surprise.

What They're Saying...

I heard about the program through my son. He came home…and showed me the safety rules. I cannot thank the Foundation enough; to have other people who are also concerned about my child’s safety and the safety of other kids is wonderful. I especially like the program’s focus on the prevention side.

The MBF Child Safety Matters program is impressive. This important information is well formulated and well presented, developmentally appropriate, and based on good understanding of literature.

The MBF Teen Safety Matters curriculum hosts an in-depth approach to important social and safety concerns relevant to youth. The program content is age-appropriate with engaging activities, jargon, and realistic situations to positively promote a relatable and impacting learning experience…Teen Safety Matters is an educational benefit to all parties involved – students, parents, facilitators, and schools.