SPAN Responds to the COVID-19 Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis with devastating local consequences. At SPAN we recognize the additional risk that vulnerable and isolated individuals, like domestic violence survivors and their children, face during this challenging time. We are committed to do everything we can to continue supporting survivors while also protecting the health and wellness of our clients, staff and volunteers.
Here’s what we’ve been doing:
· The SPAN 24-hour Crisis & Information Line (303.444.2424) is fully operational.
· The SPAN Emergency Shelter remains open and is providing safe refuge for domestic violence survivors and their children. The Shelter capacity has been reduced to provide increased physical distance between residents.
· SPAN’s Outreach Counseling and Legal Advocacy services are available by contacting the SPAN crisis line (303-444-2424). Phone-based support counseling can assist individuals experiencing increased anxiety, fear and isolation during this challenging time. SPAN’s Lawyers for Victims Program is available to assist survivors seeking Protection Orders. Both the Boulder County Courts and the Broomfield Combined Court are hearing emergency cases, like protection orders.
· SPAN’s Housing Team is providing rental assistance and delivering food boxes to our community-based housing clients. Our staff is working closely with other community organizations to ensure that families have ongoing access to basic needs and housing support throughout the duration of the crisis.
· With Boulder Valley School District suspending in-person learning for the remainder of the school year, SPAN’s Education Team has transformed our classroom-based violence prevention curriculum to an online format available to BVSD schools. Youth involved in SPAN’s Peers Building Justice (PBJ) Program are meeting through video conferencing and planning a youth-led virtual Open Mic event for May. And, SPAN’s Creating Protective Environment (CPE) Project is working with our three Youth Advisors and CPE Project partners to implement “hot spot mapping” remotely.
As we transition from the “stay at home” to the “safer at home” phase of Colorado’s response to COVID-19, here’s what we’re planning:
· Continued 24-hour crisis line support and access to Emergency Shelter. The Shelter will remain at reduced occupancy for the foreseeable future to ensure safe physical separation. Staff and Shelter residents wear masks, gloves, and regularly take temperature to reduce the potential spread of the virus. Hotel vouchers may available when the Shelter is at capacity.
· We have established protocol and best practices to offer tele-health counseling services for survivors. When safe to do so, we will re-instate in-person counseling support, respecting physical distancing and providing masks and gloves for clients.
· We anticipate a significant increase in survivors needing legal advocacy and court support. While Protection Order hearings have continued during the “shut down”, family court cases, like divorce, custody/parenting time orders, have been suspended into May, or possibly longer. As the courts fully open, our Legal Advocates will be available to assist survivors with their legal advocacy needs.
· Housing insecurity has intensified the danger that survivors have faced in the COVID-19 crisis. Our Housing Advocates will continue processing rental support and delivering food/basic needs
boxes to housing clients. We expect a significant increase in the number of survivors reaching out for assistance in the coming months.
· Finally, we are exploring ways to increase support to children/youth over the summer months. With in-person classes suspended, sports cancelled, and the availability of summer camps and activities questionable, many children and youth are increasingly isolated from their support networks. Our Child/Youth Team is developing creative ways to reach and engage youth during this challenging time.
Appreciation for our many community partners:
SPAN began preparing to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on survivors and SPAN’s services when the reality of the pandemic became apparent in early March. We are immensely grateful for the guidance and support that Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) staff have provided over the past two months. From the early days of planning, BCPH, Boulder County Housing and Human Services, the cities of Boulder and Longmont, homeless services providers, family resource centers, community health clinics, Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley, SPAN, the District Attorney’s Office, and other community organizations have worked as true partners in responding to the crisis and its devastating impact on the most vulnerable in our community. COVID-19 has tested the strength and compassion of our community, and the community has met this challenge with extraordinary determination and grace. We could not be more proud to be part of this coordinated community effort.
Finally, we recognize that the measures needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 have create hardship and challenges for many in our community. The crisis has amplified social inequities and left domestic violence survivors and other vulnerable community members at even greater risk of isolation and increased danger. SPAN will continue to do all that we can to support survivors and the community during this incredibly challenging time. If you or someone you know are in need of support, please call the SPAN 24-hour crisis line. We are here for you.