Pulse Check: How Can We Protect our Children in the Wake of COVID-19?

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By Lisa Metropoulos

Recently, we introduced two impressive entrepreneurs who are highlighting social issues that COVID-19 continues to bring into clear view Tel Ganesan, founder and executive chairman of Kyyba, Inc.; and Dr. Leven Chuck Wilson, founder of The Renew Group, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming communities through a holistic approach.

Tel K. Ganesan
Tel K. Ganesan

Both Ganesan and Dr. Wilson are putting their personal and corporate time and resources into fighting COVID-19, and are committed to continuing the conversations and awareness that Coronavirus has shined a global light on. I caught up with each to discuss how COVID-19 is affecting children and education, and what we can do to help.

The Coronavirus has forced most students across the nation to be home-schooled for the remainder of the school calendar year. This scenario is not only inconvenient, but can actually lead to perilous situations for many children—situations that have existed for decades but are now being hyper-examined due to COVID-19.

Schools are often safe spaces for children living in risky home situations, so how can we help ensure their safety as cases of domestic violence rise during the lockdown? NBC News reports that domestic violence calls gained a 6% national increase in March, and USA Today Reports a 30% increase to date.

Dr. Leven Chuck Wilson
Dr. Leven Chuck Wilson

“Schools are closing. Parents are struggling to care for their children and make ends meet. The protection risks for children are mounting,” tweeted UNICEF Associate Director and Chief of Child Protection Cornelius Williams. UNICEF has released guidelines to help keep our children protected. These guidelines can be found on the UNICEF website. “We have seen increases in violence with other national emergencies,” said Ganesan, “and we all must do anything we can to help relieve those burdens.”

Ganesan started the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Kyyba Kidz specifically to enhance the lives of children through advancement opportunities in education. Kyyba Kidz has benefited hundreds of children and students in Michigan and beyond. During this national health crisis, Ganesan has committed to working with other state and national organizations to give more resources in nutrition and education. One of the nonprofits Ganesan has partnered with is The Renew Group, headed by Founder Dr. Leven Chuck Wilson.

“Educational professionals are a main resource for at-risk students, and that in-person resource the children used to have for eight hours a day or longer is now gone,” says Dr. Wilson. “We need to make sure people in each state know where to get help.”

Dr. Wilson, an expert in social work, has spent much of his time recently devoted to advising organizations, interest groups, and steering committees on social health issues highlighted by COVID-19. He stresses that “as children are using more screen time, we need to be diligent in checking their devices, and ensuring they are practicing safe online habits.” You can help ensure that individuals continue to receive resources from area organizations working around the clock during this pandemic to keep our children safe and receive the materials they need for education by donating to them.

The Non Profit Times, a leading business publication for nonprofit management, reports on multiple ways the Coronavirus Aide, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act can help nonprofits. Nonprofits can apply for Payroll Protection, Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Loan Forgiveness, and Disaster Grants. They can be denied, but if they are approved, they have between a 3-4% interest rate, depending on the loan and term length of repayment. Although the CARES Act supports nonprofits in many ways, it can still leave many that provide essential services to their communities in a critical financial situation.

There are several definitions that need to be closely examined in order for a nonprofit to qualify for these loans, a specific example is how the CARES Act makes charity organizations subject to the affiliation rules of the Small Business Administration (SBA) when determining size of a nonprofit. These can be tricky, lengthy, and while this is being worked out within an organization, their ways of funding are being scaled down further. Dr. Wilson expresses that community nonprofits are a main source of financial safety for families, especially during COVID-19.

“SBA can get out $350 billion in 14 days for Payroll Protection to corporations, but students in corners all over the country still do not have access to Wi-Fi for remote learning. Many of our nonprofits help fund these types of resources, and we need to keep encouraging strong community partnerships between corporations and nonprofits for these specific needs,” states Dr. Wilson.

“Communities consist of all different types and sizes of small businesses. We must be concerned with bailing out our car dealerships, restaurants, and other service sectors. Also, where is the extra funding for teacher salaries? Teachers are now working from home, using their own technology, Internet and cellular service, as opposed to being in the educational institutions where these services would be provided for their use.”

In recent weeks, we have seen alarming numbers continue to rise for people in lines at food banks and other social service organizations. Many students rely on educational institutions to provide main meals for them at low or no cost. Under the current Stay-At-Home orders to prevent the virus from spreading, students across the nation have lost access to this nutrition.

Tel Ganesan describes how COVID-19 will have a trickle-down effect of nourishment deficiencies. “This issue in children leads to anxiety, difficulty concentrating and sleeplessness, which contributes to learning difficulties. We must look at how we can provide our children with the proper nutrition for healthy learning,” he said.

Many larger nonprofits are coming together to support their communities, like the Detroit Lions who gave a large donation of water to the city of Flint, Mich. “We also need to do our due diligence, and ensure these donations are going to the appropriate organization,” said Dr. Wilson.

We also need to do our due diligence in our own backyards. It’s time we know our neighbors. Dr. Wilson remembers growing up in public housing. “We shared eggs, sugar and milk. If one didn’t have it, the one who did gave it. It was never a debate or question. It was a culture of helping. Now, many of us do not know our neighbors. It’s time to change that,” he said.

As children are currently isolated from other caregivers such as grandparents, aunts and uncles who, in many cases, supplemented their food needs, counting on a neighbor’s goodwill could be essential to satisfying health needs for a child.

It’s time for all people to evaluate their approach. We need to take the focus away from being the most powerful in the community, state, nation or world. It’s time to shift the focus to simply being better. Let’s do it for our children.

See resources below for more information on how to help.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-799-3224

The Renew Group
www.renewgroup.org

Kyyba Kidz Foundation
www.kyybakidzfoundation.org

Child Help Hotline
https://www.childhelp.org/hotline

State by State Local Community Foundation Covid19 Relief
https://www.commfoundations.com/blog/2020/3/11/community-foundations-nationwide-launch-efforts-to-help-communities-affected-by-the-coronavirus 

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