Equity and Inclusion At the Forefront
As we continue with our first-year project goal of developing an Environmental Scan of the available nutrition guidelines for children with special needs in schools as well as increasing awareness and participation in the Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs available to families, we are recognizing reoccurring concerns:
1. Access to information and access to locations
2. Trust in government programming
Access to foods during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for many families, especially families with special needs. Lack of transportation, health concerns, and other barriers prevent families from meeting their basic nutritional needs. As schools, pantries, and child nutrition programs prepare for a different kind of food distribution this Summer, it is an opportunity for new relationships to form and for key stakeholders to form strong social networks of care to best support families that are struggling already, and now even more so with the pandemic as an added layer.
The Family Resource Network’s team directly interacts with families through our programming such as Health Insurance Navigator Program, Virtual Fitness, and Nutrition Services, Support Groups, Support Coordination for Adults with I/DD, Respite Services, ABA Programs, County-Based Caregiver Coalitions among many more, our conversations with families have undertaken a new depth. Families are communicating their long-term and short-term concerns about the pandemic, the safety of their loved ones during this time, and the distrust in some government programming. Not taking into consideration these concerns would be doing an injustice to the families that we all serve, along with all the hard work we all put into programming, education, and outreach. We know we care. But how can we better engage, inform, and build trust with vulnerable communities?
One size does not fit all and that’s why our approaches cannot be the same across the board. Respect, understanding, and assistance are interpreted in different ways through varying cultural lenses. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committees can improve our relationships and trust by providing accessible care and working with communities, not for communities.
As an organization we have:
• Trained staff to utilize the Trauma-Informed Approach
• Developed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
• Establishing a well-connected Social Network of Care to better provide families with the resources for present-day concerns
About the Grantee
The Family Resource Network is an inclusive group of community programs and services designed to meet the growing needs of individuals and families with disabilities. From mobility assistance to educational programs for children with intellectual & developmental disabilities, to scholarship opportunities and healthy eating and fitness programs- we aim to bridge gaps for the families we serve.