Welcome to this Kids Count edition of the New Futures' newsletter. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, our hearts go out to all whose lives have been disrupted by this pandemic. This crisis has brought to the forefront many of the issues New Futures has been working for years to address and exposed significant holes in New Hampshire’s public health system. We are committed to helping New Hampshire overcome this crisis and to building a stronger public health system for the generations to come.
This Kids Count edition includes: a brief policy update, changes in the early childhood and children's behavioral health fields, and helpful resources, prevention tips and an uplifting advocate spotlight.
At this time of the year, New Futures is usually nearing the end of the legislative session. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our focus has changed to meet urgent concerns facing Granite Staters.
Due to COVID-19, the General Court has suspended all legislative activities until further notice with the exception of remote public meetings, notices for which will be published in the House or Senate Calendar. During this time, the State House and Legislative Office Building will be closed to legislative members, legislative staff, and visitors.
Legislative committees have started to meet remotely to determine the best route forward for the 700 bills yet to be voted on.
Executive Office Update
Governor Sununu has established two entities to help NH through this crisis and to safely re-opening the NH economy. First, the Governor's Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR), is charged with the investment and oversight of New Hampshire's federal COVID-19 relief and stimulus funds. Second, is the Governor's Economic Re-Opening Task Force, which will develop a plan and oversee the state and private-sector actions needed to reopen New Hampshire's economy while minimizing the adverse impact on public health.
New Futures' Update
To strengthen the health and wellness of New Hampshire, New Futures is leading and participating in a number of stakeholder groups working with the State to support childcare providers, boost the health care workforce, and maintain access to appropriate community supports for children and families in need during this time of crisis. We are working with the Governor's office, GOFERR and the Economic Re-opening Task Force to prioritize funding for childcare facilities, behavioral health providers and other direct care workers on the front lines of this pandemic.
These priorities need support and guidance in order to ensure the health of our state and a strong economic reopening.
Early Childhood COVID-19 Update
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that New Hampshire make a commitment to ensure access to quality childcare and supports for working families and employees. We are working closely with the State, advocacy partners and service providers to support childcare and family support programs, and ensure their viability now and into the future.
Without access to quality childcare, parents and caregivers cannot return to the workforce. Our country's economic success is dependent on a strong system of childcare that is affordable, accessible, safe and responsive to parent needs.
Family Resource Centers have provided critical support to children and families during this crisis. While many of their communications with families have gone remote, these community-based programs have continued to provide a variety of services to ensure children's wellbeing and remain flexible to meet family's needs in a safe manner.
- Waypoint Warm Line: For free guidance and support for parents/caregivers. Call: 1-800-640-6486 M-F, 8:30-4:30.
- Family Resource Centers: FRCs act as a “front-door” to services—they provide many supports directly and help families navigate to whatever else they might need.
Children's Behavioral Health Update
The current COVID-19 public health crisis is especially stressful for children and families. With schools being moved online since mid-March and orders from the governor to remain remote for the rest of the year, our families have experienced extreme disruptions to their daily routines and many children have lost access to critical behavioral health support provided through school. Through this crisis we are working with schools and mental health providers to ensure continuity of services for children and families in need. Strengthening our current system of care is more important now than ever to improve coordination and ensure children and families get the mental health services and supports where and when they need them.
Mental Health Centers
All 10 Community Mental Health Centers in New Hampshire are continuing to see children and families through telehealth for serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI). Some facilities are seeing children and families in person for emergency situations.
With our partners in the Juvenile Reform Project, New Futures is continuing to work during this challenging time to ensure the health and safety of children in residential care and those within the juvenile justice system.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
For situational mental health challenges, please seek out a local clinician for services in your area.
Be kind to your mind!
1. Pause, Breath, notice how you feel.
2. Take breaks
3. Make time to sleep and exercise
4. Reach out and stay connected
5. Seek help if overwhelmed or in need
- Know And Tell: we are all mandatory reporters of child abuse. If you suspect it, report it. To Report Suspected Abuse Call DCYF at (800) 894-5533 - For Emergencies Dial 911.
Now is the time to be mindful of our health and that of those around us. During stressful times, many turn to alcohol and other substances as a coping mechanism. Through this crisis we are continuing to work with partners to spread awareness of the dangers of alcohol and substance misuse. Now more than ever, its important to be aware of the consequences of excessive/binge drinking and to talk with kids about the harms of underage drinking.
Liquor sales in New Hampshire and nationwide have been spiking since the pandemic and has spawned plenty of jokes and memes about drinking too much, as well as virtual happy hours and recipes for “quarantinis.”
"Self care is a very personal thing, and I think that some may think that having that second glass of wine is self-care, but in actuality that may be the opposite,” said Kate Frey, VP of Advocacy at New Futures. “It’s a good time to step back and really think: Is this the best thing for myself and for those around me that I should be doing right now?"
SUD and COVID-19: Collision of two public health pandemics
Know that help is available. While, in-person meetings are often an essential part of the recovery process for those with substance use disorders, SUD treatment and recovery communities are finding new ways to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic with virtual meetings and other innovative techniques.
Thank you for all you do! We have heard so many incredible stories of educators, caretakers, and parents going above and beyond during this difficult time. One story we recently heard is from Lindsay at the After School Program (ASP) in Berlin, NH.
Lindsay, who runs the After School Program, told us that although they haven't been in session for over a month, they are busier than ever! They received a call a few weeks back from a teacher at the elementary school, who had a student who had not been turning in his assignments. The teacher was unable to get in contact with him and was worried, but the Program has connected him several times for no-contact deliveries of care packages, SEL learning kits, and other fun activities. The Program Face-times him often as he is very lonely during the day. They asked him about the missing assignments and come to find out he was doing his assignments but he wasn't hitting the 'turn in' button. It was an easy fix and he was thrilled that not only were his ASP teachers checking in on him but that his other teachers had taken the time to think about him and reach out.
To stay connected and involved make sure to join us for one of our weekly webinars. You can view the entire New Futures' weekly webinar series here: New Futures' Webinars on Demand.
This Wednesday, May 13th at 12:30-1:30 p.m. New Futures and Protect Our Care New Hampshire will welcome Congresswoman Annie Kuster for a roundtable discussion on the state of New Hampshire’s addiction crisis.RSVP Here
Next Wednesday, May 20th at 4:30-6:30 p.m. join us for a documentary screening of Resilience and panel discussion to follow. This powerful documentary discusses the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and highlights strategies to help children and families gain resilience.RSVP Here
Thank You for Reading!
We are looking forward to another month of working to keep the Granite State a healthy place to live, work and raise a family.
Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you again soon!