Yes, DOUBLE MY GIFT to help families!

Yes, DOUBLE MY GIFT to help families!

Yes, Double my gift to help families!

How is Coronavirus Affecting Those in Poverty?

By Dr. Sharen Ford
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homeless tent encampment
"For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me." - John 12:8 (ESV)

We live in an industrialized nation yet families are living in poverty.  Families are living in their cars, in tents, in shelters and substandard housing structures in much need of repair. Whenever I drive down a main freeway in my city, I see a tent encampment. My thoughts wander to how many children are living there. And beyond homelessness, poverty to the low-income communities. How are  children staying connected and getting their needs met? How is coronavirus affecting those in poverty? In this time, we think of these children and wonder, where is God?

Those in Poverty

The daily news has moved from reporting on politics, sports and what the rich and the famous are or are not doing to reporting on the numbers of people impacted by the coronavirus. I remember my Father’s voice saying when I would prepare to go out with a group of friends ‘bullets have no names written on them.  When they strike, you could be the target’.  This virus is like a bullet, it has no name on it, yet over and over it has hit a target. And we wonder, where is God?

With so many people sick, hurting, afraid and much more why focus on the poor at this time? To be honest, the poor never really leave my mind.  I think about them all the time. I think about how  the coronavirus is affecting those in poverty or low-income communities. Remember the virus has no names.  I think of the children that have entered the foster care system because their family didn’t have the resources to feed, clothe and shelter them appropriately.  As if being poor is a crime, punishable by losing your child.  Our societal norms play a role in how a local community responds to those who are less fortunate than us. 

Coronavirus Affecting Schools

I think about the children that come to school ill-equipped for the school day. One of my sisters teaches at a charter school in a low-income community, not more than 15 miles from where I live.  She tells me stories about the children who don’t have.  It’s more than not having pencils, paper or crayons for their classroom activities, it went further than that.  At the beginning of the school year, I went to her classroom on a Saturday to pray over the room.  We prayed over every desk, chair, toy, the blackboard and learning center.  I noticed the basket next to her desk filled with jackets and sweaters. She smiled at me and said it was her recess stash.  She wanted to make sure that each child could enjoy recess despite coming to school equipped to play.   Where is God?

teacher helping students remotely during coronavirus

I checked in with her this week to ask how the students in her classroom are learning during the cornavirus pandemic. She shared that she was having weekly calls with most parents and their students.  Some parents she was having twice-weekly calls to help them access the materials for their children to get their classwork done.  Many of her students have multiple families living in the home so she finds herself helping with many different assignments. She’s concerned about several students whose parents haven’t engaged.  So, she reached out to someone who might know…the lunch lady.

Schools Are Helping

Even in this era of social distancing, I find myself grateful for school administrators that opened the schools so meals could be prepared and handed out for kids to eat.  Depending on the community the average elementary school has between 25-50%* of its student population eligible to receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch.  With schools closed, this is another key area that coronavirus is affecting for those in poverty. Back in the day, it was the lunch ladies that knew students by name.  Thank goodness for them.  My sister reached out to the ladies passing out lunches and learned that the parents of her missing students were still in the community.  She asked the lunch ladies to encourage the parents to check in with their child’s teacher.  Where is God?

God shows up in many different forms.  He shows up with trash bags at the tent city so that there’s not debris littering their encampment.  In the teacher that brings “extra” to school and gives extra time to students so that every child has.  He shows up in the school administrator and the lunchroom ladies to make sure that students have a meal to eat.  Where is God?  He shows up in YOU!

What You Can Do

So, what can you do in a time such as this? Well, I heard God say during this time of sheltering in to do some Spring cleaning.  So, I’ve purposed to be open to tackling several different projects.  When I walked in my closet I heard ‘Spring Cleaning’ I thought of the Foster Care Closets across the country and how items in my closet could be donated for the use of youth in foster care.  As you spend time at home, consider asking Him if there are things in your closet that could be donated to the Foster Care Closet in your community.

*National Center for Education Statistics https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=898

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About the Author

Dr. Sharen Ford

Sharen Ford is a nationally-recognized child welfare consultant and the retired Manager for Permanency Services for the Colorado Department of Human Services in the Division of Child Welfare Services. She retired with 30 years of comprehensive work history with the department. She oversaw six programmatic areas including the Foster Care and Adoption Program and supervised a team of professional staff. …

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