West Warwick, RI ─ Agencies that provide support to low-income families and kids in Rhode Island are still finding ways to connect with their clients during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tides Family Services has locations in both West Warwick and Pawtucket and serves around 500 kids ranging in age from 6 to 21 years old.
CEO Beth Bixby tells Eyewitness News that most of the agency’s clients come from low-income families and need advocacy for things such as getting computer equipment and adequate wifi at home for distance learning.
“A lot of our kids have challenges with school, bullying,” Bixby said. “A lot of abuse and neglect cases that we work with.”
Bixby said Tides has had to adjust its programming to allow for virtual classes, including the vocational class that Dan Reid has taught in West Warwick for 16 years.
The 66-year-old has never enjoyed technology, but because of COVID-19, he’s learned how to set up a three-camera shoot of his class, how to use editing software and how to post his videos online for students.
“Instead of just sitting at home and having to stay on that computer and do their school work, this kind of keeps them engaged,” Reid said.
Students are able to get support at home on their computers, but also in-person. Trackers, such as Sarah Pearson, make rounds to client’s homes to check-in. She always stays outside the home, six feet away, with a mask and gloves on.
“It’s always great that we can get face-to-face so that our clients aren’t feeling isolated, or alone, or feel like they aren’t being supported enough in any way,” Pearson said.
Trackers drop off food to families, along with at-home learning packets to help kids with their homework. Pearson said it’s a way to make clients know that even though they’re quarantined, they’re not alone.