Innovative Programming for Uncertain Times
Since the world of the kids we serve got small, Kids in Focus is going BIG to stay connected to them.
Now, more than ever, the most important thing we can do is stay connected to the kids we serve. Grief, uncertainty, and adversity is an all too familiar experience for most of the youth we serve. The closing of schools and social programs for these kids is particularly devastating because, for many of them, school is the only stable and positive thing in their lives. Kids in Focus is working extra hard during this time to implement innovative programs to help the kids navigate stressful times and build resilience.
Deepening Our Impact
After summer-long virtual programs at Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the Valley, we jumped at the chance to return to in-person programs starting early-Fall. We’ve reinvented our in-person programs to work within COVID constraints and we remain as busy as ever serving kids at Children First Leadership Academy and Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley. Starting in the Fall and continuing into the foreseeable future, our dedicated volunteer Mentors are providing the kids hope, trusting relationships, confidence building, and an important sense of belonging through retooled existing programs as well as brand-new innovative programming.
Participation in our Grads in Focus program continues to grow at an unprecedented rate due to our increased efforts to engage the kids through personal calls/messages, home-visits, and their private online forum. Additionally, KIF partnered with OdySea Aquarium Foundation to provide 32 KIF Grads and Mentors a fun day of exploration, giving the kids a day of much-needed release and calm.
We retooled our 9-week Afterschool Program at CFLA (which started in January) with smaller groups and for the first time a ratio of 1-to-1 for many of the Mentors and kids. We are excited to see how this level of personal engagement further bonds and benefits the kids and mentors. The Exhibit Opening of the kids’ work will be held outdoors on April 8 at the AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park.
Meeting Emergency Needs
This year we added a new Lifeline component to the Grads program that encompasses a new set of critical social services that grew organically from our ongoing long-term relationships with the kids we serve. The global COVID-19 pandemic caused many of our families to experience heightened distress in what were already challenging circumstances. Because of the trusting relationships that we built with the kids, many kids began turning to us for help as their home situations worsened. While meeting the emergency needs of our kids was not new for us, the number of kids needing crisis intervention was, and we quickly stepped in to help the families in a myriad of ways buffer the pain and mitigate tragic life events, including helping two young sisters who just lost their only parent cope, thrive, and survive by providing necessities, emotional healthcare, educational support, and important items such as a computer and sofa.
Creating New Alliances
The Lifeline program has generated a push to create new alliances with Social and Health Services entities that provide help with counseling, temporary housing, financial, education, and transportation assistance. We are finding new lively and mutually beneficial coordination that will enable us to help families in crisis faster and better.