Community and Faith-Based Organizations

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Community and Faith-Based Organizations

UYTC COVID Best Practices 05COVID-19 Best Pratices for Trauma Intervention
Community and Faith-Based Organizations
 
Know the signs… be supportive
Living through a global pandemic such a COVID-19 can lead to a range of social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems. It is important that individuals are able to identify the signs that children and youth may be struggling and know the best ways that they can provide support.
  • Local community centers that previously offered mental health and counseling resources for the community should identify ways to reach people in the community to let them know about agencies that are providing telehealth services during this time. 
  • Clergy and religious leaders should be available to support members that are dealing with increased stress or may be grieving the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19.
  • Community centers and religious organizations can coordinate with local officials to assist with distribution of food, protective equipment, etc.
  • If your organization has experience working with underserved populations (e.g. homeless, immigrants, low income, etc.) make sure to advocate for them so that their needs are being addressed by local health officials. Also try to identify any language, cultural, or disability barriers with current resources or services serving community. 
  • For families in need, consider developing a “grab-and-go” system so that they are still able to receive meals, household essentials, prescriptions, etc.
  • Some congregation members may need encouragement to proactively protect their family’s health because they may think people should just accept that this crisis is “God’s will” or “God’s Punishment”
 
A sense of Trust
The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic may cause children and youth to feel that they cannot rely on anyone for safety or support. The presence of positive and stable relationships is extremely important. The care and support provided by caregivers and other adults can help with positive development and resiliency.
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  • In order to ensure that members of the community are still able to connect with their faith-based organization and receive spiritual and social support, implement different ways to connect such as online streaming of religious services (especially at the same times of usual prayer services), phone conference calls, weekly video prayer meetings, etc.
  • Current shelter in place orders will prevent most individuals from being able to visit the places that they would often turn to for support (community centers, food pantries, churches, etc.). Identify “check-in” systems so that you can stay connected with these individuals so that they know you are still able to provide support.
  • In order to maintain a connection with the community, consider sending out prerecorded phone messages, post videos online, and send out online surveys to “check in” about physical and emotional health, or send letters or postcards with inspirational verses email, social media, or U.S. mail. You should use multiple outreach methods so that you can reach a larger audience.
  • Faith-based leaders should emphasize their openness to discussing any personal or family difficulties that have gotten worse or newly emerged during the pandemic (private individual feelings about “losing faith” or “doubting religion” that are taboos to discuss among the larger congregation, lack or negligence of regular required ritual practice, disclosures about child abuse or domestic violence, recent addictions or relapses with alcohol or drugs, etc.)
 
A sense of Mastery
Changes in normal routines and the transition to at-home learning during the COVID-19 pandemic may cause children and adolescents to develop low self-esteem, poor self-mastery, and the belief that they are unable to accomplish tasks or develop new skills. It is important to support children and youth who may be struggling during this time and work with them on building new skills and developing a sense of mastery.
  • While members of the community or faith-based organizations may not be able to meet in person, identify virtual ways to still share, celebrate, or honor traditions, milestones, or religious holidays.
  • Local community centers that were previously offering classes for members of the community can identify which classes could possibly be transferred to “online-learning” (i.e. fitness, art, job fairs, etc.)
  • Faith-based organizations can hold online group meetings (i.e. study sessions for Christians’ Bible, Muslims’ Quran, Jews’ Torah, Hindus’ Vedas, etc.) to replace in-person learning activities that normally occurred.
  • Faith-based organizations can also share online software, smartphone apps, or any available technology to support continuing regular religious rituals (e.g., inspirational religious verses, ethical and inspirational, daily prayer trackers, reminders, etc.)
 
Feeling Safe
The uncertainty surrounding this virus, daily media reports, shelter in place policies, and constantly changing information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic may cause children and youth to feel unsafe or concerned about their family’s wellbeing. It is important to work towards creating an environment where individuals can feel safe by helping to identify safe spaces, building supportive relationships, and discussing ways to stay safe and healthy.
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  • While members of the community or faith-based organizations may not be able to meet in person, identify virtual ways to still share, celebrate, or honor traditions, milestones, or religious holidays.
  • Local community centers that were previously offering classes for members of the community can identify which classes could possibly be transferred to “online-learning” (i.e. fitness, art, job fairs, etc.)
  • Faith-based organizations can hold online group meetings (i.e. study sessions for Christians’ Bible, Muslims’ Quran, Jews’ Torah, Hindus’ Vedas, etc.) to replace in-person learning activities that normally occurred.
  • Faith-based organizations can also share online software, smartphone apps, or any available technology to support continuing regular religious rituals (e.g., inspirational religious verses, ethical and inspirational, daily prayer trackers, reminders, etc.) In order to slow transmission rates, all community agencies and faith-based organizations should consider extended closure or limited access of their facilities. Follow-up with local health officials regarding future crowd size stipulations and to determine when gatherings can resume.
  • If your agency or organization is considered essential, take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and visitors safe. Increase space between staff, minimize face-to-face interactions as much as possible, have a schedule for sanitizing or disinfecting all surfaces, and post signs in your facility about ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Have a plan for screening staff when they arrive and make sure to notify local health officials immediately if you learn that a person confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in your facility.
  • In preparation for when faith-based organizations may be able to re-open, religious leaders must think about possible changes that will need to be made to increase safety (avoiding shaking hands/hugging by substituting alternative ways of appropriate religious greetings, changing how financial contributions are collected,  and modifying the process of communion)
  • Faith based groups can also increase safety by preparing a list of up-to-date resources to meet basic living needs in advance since some congregation members may have reached exhaustion or desperation, planning to continue implementing some form of online presence in situations where congregation members have become dependent on – or desperate for - this additional outreach, preparing for a flood of initial requests for spiritual counseling given the increased stress of having extended closures of faith-based centers.
 
Changing the Message
The information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic changes daily and children and youth are getting information from multiple sources. It is important to identify their current beliefs regarding COVID-19, promote positive thinking regarding recovery, continue reviewing ways to stay safe, and avoid spreading false information.
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  • Identify and address any language or beliefs regarding COVID-19 that may be stigmatizing or geared negatively toward a specific ethnic or cultural group in your community.
  • Help to address any rumors or misinformation related to COVID-19 by making sure that the leaders and those speaking on behalf of your organization are sharing timely and reliable information with members of the community.
  • In order to help reduce the fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 transmission and increase mitigation efforts, work with local health officials and law enforcement to help share the message about the importance of staying home and following social distancing recommendations.
  • Faith-based leaders should help their congregation decide how to proactively take steps for protecting both their chosen individual religious beliefs (inevitability of “God’s Will,” etc.) as well as the scientifically-valid health practices to keep their families safe from getting or relapsing with COVID-19.
 

UYTC COVID 19 Social media

Share Your Story! Using the hash tags #PromotingPandemicPeace and #UYTC, share examples of how you are using the best practice strategies to help yourself, your family, or others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click UYTC Coping with COVID-19 Best Practices Fact Sheet to download a printable copy for all youth providers and audiences.