How did New Hampshire create and distribute a resource guide to support child and family well-being during the COVID-19 emergency?
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early spring 2020, reports of suspected child abuse and neglect across the country plummeted at the same time that children and parents faced increased stressors. Worryingly, pandemic-related challenges have been linked to increased risk factors for child abuse and neglect, including financial instability, mental health challenges, and domestic violence. In New Hampshire, after the state’s stay-at-home order was issued, many community members (including school administrators, teachers, and social workers) had fewer opportunities to interact with families. In addition, professionals working with families across a range of services reported widespread confusion about what resources were still available and how to help families access them during the pandemic.
In response, New Hampshire developed a “Supporting Child and Family Wellbeing” resource guide to encourage community members who regularly interact with children and families, such as teachers, neighbors, or child care providers, to check in on families and help them access needed supports. The simple yet detailed two-page guide provides sample questions for professionals and community members to ask both parents and children to help determine resource or support needs. It also contains lists and links to access concrete services, including financial assistance, food and nutrition resources, crisis support, and housing programs.
This strategy brief describes why and how the guide was developed, how it has been distributed, and plans for sustaining these tools as part of regular agency operations. By creating and distributing a one-stop resource guide to inform both professionals and community members about different ways to help families during the pandemic, the Division of Children Youth & Families (DCYF) sought to proactively support child and family well-being in the midst of a once-in-a-generation crisis, and beyond.