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Office of Children's Services
 

Family


Are you a parent or caregiver/guardian?

In times of crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic, financial problems, stress, and the new demands of having children at home due to school and child care closures can overwhelm families. Many parents are feeling depressed or anxious, may want to cope by using drugs or alcohol, or may feel overwhelmed by parenting right now. Some parents may also be in danger themselves due to a household member using control, threats, or physical or sexual violence. Some families may be struggling to find food, clothing, diapers, or other necessities or to pay the bills.

Help for parents and caregivers

Your children love and need you, and YOU deserve the care and support you need to be there for them.

Your basic needs, well-being, health, mental health, and safety matter during a crisis. It’s okay to be struggling right now – you’re not alone, and it’s okay to ask for help.

If you want information on local services available to you (including how to get food and other basic needs):

Support for the well-being of parents and caregivers:


If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, here are some options:

  • Call 911 for emergencies
  • Call Alaska’s Careline for suicide prevention and non-judgmental support: 1-877-266-4357 or text 4HELP to 839863
  • Talk with friends and family in your support network, elders in your community, or local services.

If you are in a household or relationship with someone who makes you feel unsafe:

Helping the children and youth in your life 

This can be a hard time for children, as they might miss their friends, teachers, and the structure of school and other activities. The good news is that a child’s connection with one or more positive adult in their life – someone who can be there for them and help them talk through worries – is the most important thing to protect a child. Parents and caregivers can do a lot to help our children through this hard time. While you are staying home with our children, look for and be sensitive to signs that they are experiencing stress due to COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common changes to watch for include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding schoolwork
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

Ways you can support your child include:

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that there are things your family is doing to stay safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Listen to what they are sad or worried about, giving them space to talk. Share with them healthy ways that you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities, and assure that children maintain a bedtime and get adequate sleep.
  • Do healthy and fun activities together – make art and music, dance, play games, do chores together, go outside for exercise (while staying six feet away from non-household members and wearing cloth face coverings when out in public).
  • Support your child to stay in touch with friends, family, and their school via technology and/or hand-written letters.
  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

Articles and guides with information on how to help children:

Education Resources: 

Are you a resource family? 

If you are a resource family, caring for children in OCS custody, this can be a challenging time. In addition to all of the resources above, Center for Resource Families has information, resources, and training to support you.

Are you a bio family with a child in care?

If your children are in OCS' care, you may be worried because it's harder to see them now due to the COVID-19 crisis. You may also have questions related to communicating with your assigned social worker. Below is a link to frequently asked questions on working with OCS during this time.

Are you concerned about custody arrangements and co-parenting? 

While many families across the world are struggling with co-parenting and custody during this pandemic, very little has been published to help families with the topic. Below is one article with guidance on arrangements that support the health and well-being of your children and all family members. Do note: