Statement from Judith Sandalow in response to COVID-19
Children's Law Center, like each of you, is changing our operations because of the pandemic. We are focusing on three important issues:
- Protecting our staff, our clients and the community at large from the imminent health risks of COVID-19.
- Protecting children and families living in poverty from the necessary, but extremely damaging, impact of the containment efforts.
- Continuing to plan and advocate for a city in which all children have stable families, good health and a quality education - because we know that there is an important future ahead when we are able to return to our schools, playgrounds and offices.
We stand committed and will continue representing our clients, assume representation of new clients, file cases, go to court and advocate as vigorously and tenaciously as ever. While we work remotely to help flatten the curve, this is how we will continue to work with each of you and with the children and families we serve:
- When a child's safety and wellbeing requires it, we will make in-person visits - and will take the proper steps to avoid any spread of the virus before doing so. Otherwise we will communicate with our clients, their families, social workers, pediatricians and other partners through FaceTime, phone and other technology.
- In addition to helping children and families protect their physical health, we will work directly with them to ensure they have access to safe housing, adequate food and mental health supports. Our policy team will also work with government agencies to ensure access to public benefits and cash assistance for those families who lose wages and to find creative ways to support families with other needs.
- Our mentors remain available to pro bono attorneys by phone and email. We will also update pro bono attorneys as the justice landscape evolves.
- Although most of our staff will be busy remotely, a few of our staff may be available to provide assistance to other organizations who are getting groceries and other necessities to families.
- Last, but not least, we will continue to call on our donors to help us ensure Children's Law Center can continue to be the anchor institution our clients and District families have come to count on.
We know we have a challenging journey ahead. The priority must be limiting the transmission, but the impact of this virus will have ripple effects for many of our clients. We expect many parents may lose their jobs or have a significant drop in wages as the economy declines. We know children may not have full access to the right educational supports. We are concerned those who need mental health support won't be able to access it.
But we also know that even in our most challenging moments, we must not lose sight of the future we can create together.
Thank you to those who have reached out offering your support. If you are a lawyer who can offer pro bono hours during this time, please reach out to Jen Masi. If you would like to donate, please do so online or reach out to Brian Shook.
I will continue to keep you updated on ways you can work with us to ensure that we provide all DC children with a solid foundation of family, health and education - even as this new health threat continues to shape our daily lives.
Judith Sandalow, Executive Director