COVID Response: Nimble, Resilient, and Responsive

COVID-19 had a dramatic impact on schools, families, and communities because of school and business closures and stay-at-home orders. For Child First families, the hub of resources that schools represent were closed, critical resources like food could not be delivered in the same way, and opportunities like academic support and enrichment and family engagement were no longer possible in person. Within two weeks after the pandemic began, the Child First team of community school coordinators and out-of-school time staff moved into action, first by listening to families and teachers and then by responding to what was heard.

A rapid needs assessment determined that 59% of respondents needed food and 44% indicated a need for hygiene and personal care items. In response, Child First immediately shifted to share information regarding existing community resources daily and provide direct assistance with food and hygiene items in the form of a grocery store gift card. During this period, Child First distributed $12,200 in grocery and hygiene assistance to 826 individuals in 179 households.  21% of the families that received financial assistance indicated they did not already participate in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The Child First family support coordinator made individual phone calls to alert these families of universal eligibility regardless of income and assist anyone who needed hands-on support in submitting an application.

After ensuring the families had what they needed to meet their basic needs during the pandemic, the teams designed opportunities for children and their adult caregivers to remain connected and engaged.  Notably, by mid-April, Child First launched a virtual out-of-school time program featuring enrichment partners including The Carroll School of Dance, Empowering Minds Resource Center, The Movement Team, and Strength and Vitality Wellness Center. Certified teachers implemented a virtual tutoring program for students as a complement to academic instruction occurring during the school day. These offerings were extended to all students in Child First partner schools, including those who were not previously enrolled in Child First after-school programs.

Finally, Child First hosted two virtual family engagement events. In May, these offerings kicked off with a family Zumba night to get families’ bodies moving after nearly three months under stay-at-home orders. The second family engagement night was a cooking event hosted by The Movement Team. Our partners at Shop Rite even provided the ingredients required to prepare the meal for the first 25 families to register! From survey data, 100% of the families said they would make the dish again for their family and it was a good use of their time. Parents called and emailed team members about how great it was and asked when we could do it again.

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1995/1996
1995/1996
Voter accountability session with the Mayoral candidates; Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development organized listening campaign with citizens that identified afterschool programming as key need in the city; City Ordinance granted that created Baltimore Child First Authority.
1996
1996
Kermit "KC" Burton named first Executive Director of Child First Authority.
1997
1997
Carol Dunston Reckling named Executive Director.
1997
1997
Governor Parris Glendening earmarked $500,000 in dedicated state funding to Child First Authority; earmark still exist in state budget today.
2000
2000
Grant from Abell Foundation to develop our own curriculum to boost academics in Out of School Time Program.
2000
2000
Received initial funding from
Family League of Baltimore.
2002
2002
“We are not leaving without a meeting.” Action against Department of Human Resources to maintain state earmark.
2004
2004
CFA held the first Show What You Know student showcase.
2008
2008
High Expectations - In partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Partnerships, Communications & Community Engagement, CFA worked with William H. Lemmel and Garrison Middle School students to create a school climate and culture that supports relationships of trust with students and their parents and facilitates intervention strategies.
2009
2009
CFA began CFA Art Core, an initiative that placed visual and performing community artists at each afterschool site to facilitate high-quality arts instruction.
2009
2009
Baltimore Education Coalition created and Child First serves as a lead organizing member
2012
2012
Family League launches Community School Strategy and CFA becomes lead agency for community schools and OST sites
2015
2015
CFA plays pivotal role in 21st Century Building Design process at Dorothy I. Height Elementary School (then John Eager Howard)
2016
2016
Carol Reckling retires after 19 years at the helm
2016
2016
Danista E. Hunte named 3rd Executive Director
2020
COVID-19
RESPONSE
2020
CFA Family and Community Engagement Team established during the global COVID-19 pandemic to share community resources and to provide family engagement workshops and events for parents and community
2020
2020
14 Community School Sites and OST sites
2020-21
2020-21
Provided virtual programming to children and families all while living through a global pandemic
2021
2021
Celebrating 25 Years!
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1995/1996
The Beginning
1996
CFA's First Executive Director Appointed
1997
Carol Dunston take charge
1997
$500,000 in State funding
2000
Support From the Abell Foundation
2000
Support From the Family League
2002
Funding In Jeopardy
2004
Spotlight on the kids
2008
High Expectations
2009
Art Core
2009
CFA Leads
2012
Community Schools
2015
21st Century Schools
2016
Carol Reckling retires
2016
Danista Hunte
2020
Covid-19 Response
2020
14
2020-21
Virtual Programming
2021
25 Years!
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