Resources for our Bigs, Littles & Families during COVID-19

As we all navigate these uncertain times together, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Palm Beach and Martin Counties is committed to keeping our Bigs & Littles safe and connected. There are a number of suggestions and resources that are being offered to help everyone through the coronavirus. As we are made aware of new resources we will update this list of recommendations and resources.

As always, the health and safety of our children and youth, their families, our volunteers, and our staff remains the top priority of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Palm Beach and Martin Counties. While the guidelines from our political and medical leaders are beginning to slowly reopen some non-essential businesses like restaurants and locations like beaches and skate parks, our recommendation is that, for now, you continue to limit contact with your Big or Little to electronic communication only. We have been inspired by the many creative ways that our matches have been able to stay in touch during these trying times.

With the loosened restrictions on the state’s Stay-At-Home order, we recognize that some of you are anxious to resume face-to-face time with your Little. Be aware that such meetings are currently at your own risk and contrary to our recommendation at this time.  While we understand that you miss seeing your Little in person, we strongly encourage you to continue to take advantage of available technology: text, phone calls, e-mail, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, and others.

We are trying to look out for everyone’s personal safety and best interest, which includes our Littles and their families as well as our Bigs. With that said, if you choose to still consider taking that step of meeting in person, we ask that you respectfully adhere to the following in the interest of all involved:

  • Bigs must always have the express permission of the Little’s parent or guardian to resume in-person outings. Ultimately, the parent or legal guardian of a child has the final say in what their child can do, and what they cannot do.
  • Bigs should provide detailed information to the parent or guardian about how you intend to spend your time with the Little, and where you intend to go.
  • The Match Contact guidelines and waiver must be reviewed and signed by each person in the match and returned to your Match Support Specialist (MSS) before you can resume in-person contact with your match.
  • Limit your time together to outdoor activities such as walks, bike riding, fishing and other open-air activities where maintaining 6 feet of distance between yourselves and others is more possible. Large crowds should be avoided.
  • While traveling by car together and otherwise in each other’s company, both you and your Little should follow all guidelines from the Center for Disease Control including wearing a mask.
  • Avoid close physical contact with the Little and his/her family (do not hug, shake hands, or fist-bump).
  • Wash your hands with soap frequently and bring along hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your face (masks help us avoid touching our faces).
  • Keep outings to a reasonable length of time but no more than an average of 8 hours per month.
  • Do NOT meet face to face if the Big, Little, or a family member are experiencing a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms associated with COVID-19 or if anyone just does not feel good.
  • In making this decision, consider whether there are other vulnerable people living in the Little’s home (people who are over the age of 60, pregnant, have a compromised immune system, etc.).
  • Bigs should pass on these rules to their Littles and continually reinforce them, as well as checking the website for the Center for Disease Control for additional guidance on staying safe.

As always, the health and safety of our children and youth, their families, our volunteers, and our staff remain our highest priority and keep that in mind in every decision you make. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Match Support Specialist for guidance and to discuss.

It is crucial that we maintain our mentoring relationships throughout this difficult time. Many of our Littles are likely scared and confused. They undoubtedly would welcome hearing from a trusted friend who can help ease their fears and provide a distraction. Below are resources relating to the current situation, including ideas on ways the Bigs and Littles can enjoy their virtual time together. If you come up with a fun or creative activity to share with your Little, please let us know so that we can share it with other Bigs.

Be aware that you will continue to receive regular phone calls and e-mails from your Match Support Specialist, regardless of how frequently you are able to communicate with your Little. Regular communication with your MSS is essential and required. The MSS team can also be a great resource in helping you make and maintain contact with your Little, and to suggest alternative “virtual” activities.

Prepare a plan with your Little so you can still stay in touch using FaceTime, Zoom or similar online tools. The FaceTime App is most likely already on your iPhone. Remember that your Littles will have to download/install whatever tool you choose, as well. You can also consider Google Duo and WhatsApp. Schedule time to see your Little just like you would an in-person visit and plan what you will be doing in advance with their parent or guardian. Please discuss all this with your Match Support Specialist if you have questions or problems. Our friends at BBBS of Tampa Bay have created a YouTube playlist with videos on how to use the tools below.

There are many great ways to stay in touch with your Little virtually:

Additional Resources for Staying Connected

Educational Resources

Best Practices to Limit Exposure and the Spread of Coronavirus

Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus

Food Pantries & Meals for Kids

  • Free Meals for Students:With Florida schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commissioner Nikki Fried, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Division of Food, Nutrition, and Wellness encourage families to take advantage of alternative school meals. Summer BreakSpot sites do not operate during scheduled Spring Break weeks; however, parents may contact their local school districts to determine if meals are available during Spring Break. Find contact information for your local school districtClick here for additional Meal Sites for Students during COVID-19

Additional Resources

  • Free Access to Spectrum Broadband: Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households
  • Lakeland Electric, Duke Energy, and TECO will not disconnect power for nonpayment amid coronavirus pandemic: Duke Energy announced on Friday it would no longer disconnect customers’ power over nonpayment during the coronavirus pandemic. Lakeland Electric is suspending service disconnections for non-payment until further notice. Tampa Electric announced on Sunday that they will not disconnect customer’s power for nonpayments at least until the end of March.
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline: The Disaster Distress Helpline answers calls and texts related to infectious dis-ease outbreaks. Call or text to connect with a trained counselor 24/7. Call 1-800-985-5990. Spanish-speakers can call the hotline and press “2” for 24/7 bilingual support
  • Department of Workforce Solutions
  • State of Florida Employ Florida Reemployment Benefits Guides in English and Spanish
  • Florida Department of Children and Families ACCESS Florida COVID-19 Updates
  • Free Laundry Services in Tampa
  • Internet Essentials Free Internet from Comcast FAQ
  • Parents Ultimate Guides: Struggling to keep up with the media and tech your kids are using? Common Sense’s Parents’ Ultimate Guides can help keep you up to date and answer your questions about all the latest titles and trends. Whether you’re trying to figure out if a new app is safe for your teen or if a popular game includes blood and gore, we’ve got you covered. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, let us know!
  • Sex, Lies & Media Training for Adults from Selah Freedom: ​​Sex, Lies & Media Training helps interveners (parents, teachers, youth workers, etc.) learn about how predators and recruiters can approach innocent youth online through social media. It educates adults on the red flags to look out for, how a predator can manipulate and exploit a child, and how to protect the next generation from this crime. Gain practical tools to keep your kids safe online and learn how to facilitate conversations about this issue with them. 1 out of 9 children are approached by a predator online. With kids online more than ever before due to COVID-19, it is vital that parents are educated and empowered to protect them. This is a FREE virtual training on Thursday, April 23rd at 5:30pm. Once you have registered, a link will be emailed to you to attend this training.
  • Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers – Unlimited Phone Minutes
  • Good Digital Parenting ResourcesThe Family Online Safety Institute’s Good Digital Parenting resources provide parents and caregivers with the tools they need to confidently navigate the online world with their families.
  • Connect Safely Quick Guides for Internet Safely
  • Create A Family Technology Plan:  Families can create a family technology plan together by answering where they will use screens, when they will be used, for how long, and for what purpose

We know the existing relationships of our Bigs and Littles are important to keep intact, especially during stressful times. The World Health Organization has some helpful guidance on how to cope with stress and help children cope too.

Dealing with Grief

Self-Care Tips for Children & Adults

We understand that this is a very stressful time for a lot of us. Stress can have a significant impact on work and school performance, your physical and mental health, as well as your relationships with others. It is important to manage stress in healthy ways. Below are some ways that can help you to cope with stress.

  • Go for a walk
  • Gardening
  • Read a book
  • Do some yoga
  • Cook a new dish
  • Burn a scented candle
  • Cuddle with a pet
  • Meditate
  • Write in a journal
  • Watch a movie
  • Pray
  • Drive to a new place
  • Make a list
  • Clean out a junk drawer or closet
  • Call a friend on the phone
  • Take a deep breath
  • Draw a picture
  • Watch your favorite movie
  • Write down some goals
  • Exercise
  • Write a letter
  • Learn a new skill

Support for LGBTQ+ Youth: In this time of uncertainty many LGBTQ+ youth, who likely already feel isolated, might be feeling even more detached by the social distancing mandates in your area. Support can be accessed by phone, chat & text and additional resources are available online

Things to do with your kids while social distancing for coronavirus:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay has launched our Lunchtime Stories with BBBS Tampa Bay! Tune in to our Facebook page each weekday at 12:30pm as our staff reads a few chapters from a book each day
  • Florida Aquarium SEA-SPAN: The Tampa attraction is hosting a daily Facebook Live while it is closed due to coronavirus. It will be broadcast at 10 a.m. each day to keep you up to date on happenings at the aquarium. On March 17, you can watch to see the lemurs celebrate
  • Tour through famous museums: Sure you can’t leave your house but don’t let that stop you from enjoying all our world has to offer. Travel and Leisure put together a list of museums that offer virtual tours
  • Learning at home: There are tons of websites for educational activities for kids. We found this Facebook post detailing a bunch of websites you could try
  • Get on a schedule: Maybe that doesn’t sound like the greatest plan but it can be really helpful for kids. came up with a schedule that can help you plan your days. This is also an example of a daily schedule for kids who are home during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 30-day LEGO challenge: We found this one that could be fun! Take the 30 day LEGO challenge and make something new every day
  • Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems: Mo Willems invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLES. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day for the next few weeks. Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons and join Mo to explore ways of writing and making together. New episodes will be posted each weekday at 1:00 p.m. ET and then remain online to be streamed afterward. Check back each weekday for new LUNCH DOODLES!
  • Coronavirus Sanity Guide:Meditations, podcasts, blog posts, and talks to help build resilience and find some calm amidst the chaos
  • Clearwater Library:Access eBooks, digital comic books, audiobooks, magazines, and more with your Clearwater Library card
  • Polk County Library: Polk County residents can register for a library card over the phone. Check here for a list of numbers to call. Although libraries are currently closed, bibliophiles can utilize hoopla – a free digital streaming service to access eBooks, eAudiobooks, music, movies, + TV shows using your own electronic device
  • Google Arts & Culture’s collection of museums:There are thousands of museum Street Views on Google as well
  • Google Arts & Culture’s collection of historic and cultural heritage sites
  • Google Arts & Culture’s collection of national parks
  • Nightly Met Opera Streams: During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark. Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of the opera’s greatest singers. The performances are being made available through the Met Opera on Demand streaming service, and are also accessible through Met Opera on Demand apps on all of your favorite devices.
  • Stay-at-Home Care Package by Big Life Journal: ideas for indoor and outdoor activities for kids and teens
  • The Cincinnati Zoo: The Cincinnati Zoo hosts animal features on their YouTube page that are fun and educational!
  • Audible Stories: Free stories for kids of all ages while they are out of school
  • Raymond’s Activities for Kids from the Tampa Bay Rays that includes coloring pages and activity pages
  • Disney has shared the official Dole Whip recipe so you can satiate your sweet tooth
  • 10+ Ideas to Celebrate a Birthday at Home during Social Distancing
  • Kids can design their own Disney park online with ‘Imagineering in a Box’
  • Free Digital Cooking Classes For Kids Every Week Day with DELISH
  • The James Museum from Home: Connect with us through weekly curated content based on our collection. Explore art, movies, books, music, children’s activities and more. Each week the content is freshly considered and developed by our curatorial and education teams. We invite you to discover a new way to experience the museum and learn more about our collection.
  • Girl Scouts at Home: Bring the exploration, fun and learning of Girl Scouts to your family even when circumstances are keeping Girl Scouts from meeting up in person. After all, Girl Scouts isn’t somewhere girls go or something they do—it’s who they are day in, day out. Use these self-guided, free activities to keep your girl, your troop, and your community connected.

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