Covid-19 update to our community
August 24, 2020
Dear ACCO Friends,
We wanted to take this opportunity to share with our community the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on our programs and what steps we are taking to mitigate risks as we work toward reopening, while following the State health department guidelines. Given that ACCO serves people of every age from pre-natal moms to school-age children to youth seeking employment and older families sharing guardianship concerns about their loved ones, our organization is steadfast in believing that education, in all its forms, is the catalyst for overcoming all types of barriers. The updates below focus on our three primary areas of service:
Our Creative Options program for children birth to five opened in June for a 4-week summer session focused on our children going to Kindergarten and our children receiving special education services. The session went well, and we feel assured that the children that could attend did demonstrate continued growth in all domains and expressed joy at being in school! Families also reported that this time for their children was important for them as well allowing them to stay employed while their children continued to learn. The health and safety of our teams, families and children we serve has and continues to be our top priority.
On July 20, we reopened our centers for our birth to 3-year-olds and, as of August 3rd, have also opened our preschool classrooms. Right now, we are offering a hybrid of services, providing both in-class and remote learning, depending on what families choose. For in-class learning, we have implemented several measures including:
• Following all CDC and Colorado Department of Health Guidelines.
• Augmenting staffing schedules in order to accommodate staff that also have children at home
• We continue to provide ongoing assistance to families experiencing food, housing and
• On-site nursing provides immediate access to answer health questions and determine illnesses
when they occur.
Since March, the employment team at Ability Connection Colorado has been providing virtual services in a variety of ways:
• Though participation in the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) has been understandingly interrupted, ACCO staff continues to offer online virtual services to more than 50 youth.
• While mentoring participation has declined somewhat, guest speakers have been easier to arrange with less need for in-person meetings.
• With an uptick in food security and mental health issues, the RAMP team has been identifying and working with several families to provide needed resources. Staff also have noted a significant disparity between youth with disabilities and online learning. For these youth, we have helped provide or helped find and direct resources and equipment to help overcome these deficits.
• The Out of School Youth team is currently serving about 55 youth. Online Zoom sessions have been key to providing numerous classes on subjects including Financial Literacy, Mental Health Support, Workplace Etiquette and Navigating the OSY Application. Staff have also been helping youth with specific tasks such as applying for a Colorado I.D., obtaining a Social Security Card or assisting youth as they apply for Medicaid.
• Information is consistently shared among participants through newsletters and individual contact by phone.
• At a time when job placements and availability are down, employment staff continue to support participants individually with tasks like preparing job resumes and how to navigate new work environments considering the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ability Connection Colorado’s statewide support programs have been particularly busy at this time helping families stay safe and connected, while offering much needed information and resources:
• EMPOWER Colorado, with its focus on helping families cope with mental health issues, has seen a steady increase in calls regarding the uncertainty of the times we live in and the growing need for support and available resources. Beginning in the second quarter of this year, EMPOWER Colorado joined forces with Parent to Parent to broaden their collective resources and to provide additional levels of support for families in need.
• Faith in Action continues to do what it does best. Namely, to match the needs of vulnerable people with volunteers wanting to help others with their daily living skills and activities. More than ever, this service provides critical companionship and assistance at a time of isolation for many.
• Calls for information and support regarding ACCO’s Guardianship Alliance of Colorado (GAC) program have seen a steady rise during the pandemic. Aging parents are sharing their concerns and anxiety about their own health and what they can do for their loved ones should they become affected by Covid-19. The recruitment and training of guardians continues to be a major focus for GAC at this time.
• The Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program (ISOP) continues to help support families of children born with Progressive Infantile Scoliosis. Whether it’s helping families navigate the medical system or providing them with critical information and referrals regarding the life-saving techniques used in Mehta Casting, ISOP continues to be vital resource for many.
• Parent to Parent of Colorado (P2P-CO) has quickly made the transition from face-to-face meetings to online zoom gatherings where parents can share their stories and concerns, while receiving the latest information about the pandemic and guidelines for staying safe. P2P has been especially well positioned to help families at this time given their well-established web presence, their long-standing relationship with Colorado families and their growing network of information and resources.
In addition to programmatical changes, one of our greatest challenges has been the need to modify, cancel or postpone several of our special events. These critical sources of revenue are what allow us to provide the many comprehensive, life changing programs described above. While we are doing all we can to keep the lights on, it is a struggle to do so. If you can help us during these difficult times, we would be forever grateful. Whether helping spread the word about our need, volunteering or monetarily giving directly to our organization, please know that your contributions are and will make an important difference for someone in need. We recognize the challenges many are facing at this time and appreciate your consideration.
Lastly, if you are in need of support or know someone who is, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help if we can.
Stay Safe and Connected,
Chair of the Board
President & CEO