As the Vashon Island community faces the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vashon Youth and Family Services continues to provide vital social services to the island community. VYFS programs have adapted how they operate to both meet the need of the community and to comply with all instructions from the CDC.
One of VYFS’s biggest responses to the crisis is from Vashon Kids, the child-care and enrichment program offered for children age 5-12. In response to school closures, Vashon Kids and Chautauqua Elementary School have teamed up to form a hybrid program that provides safe and enriching full day care for children from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Thursday at Chautauqua. VYFS has waived the cost of Vashon Kids for all first responders and health care workers and will continue to provide scholarships, paid for with the financial help of Island donors. For those interested in contributing to the Vashon Kids scholarship fund, visit vyfs.org/give-help
Safety has been a major consideration in the design of VYFS’s response to COVID-19 and is at the heart of the partnership with Chautauqua. The program has been restructured to group children and teachers into groups of ten or less. Proper hygiene and social distancing are practiced at all times as the groups rotate through a variety of enriching physical, creative, and academic activities. All rooms, surfaces, and items used are cleaned regularly throughout the day. School District nurses conduct frequent screenings, upon arrival and throughout each day, and a sick room is available should a child show any signs of symptoms or need other medical care while at Vashon Kids. Chautauqua janitorial staff clean the building daily and do an extra deep clean of the entire area on Fridays.
Vashon Kids registration is now open for any families in need of care for children age 5-12, regardless of whether they are currently enrolled at Chautauqua. Enrollment costs $50 a day per child, and breakfast and lunch are provided. Vashon Kids continues to offer scholarships, funded by Island donors, for families experiencing hardship during this time, and discounts are available for families enrolling more than one child in the program. For families interested in registering for the program, contact Vashon Kids at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to Vashon Kids, VYFS continues to operate its counseling and emergency services. VYFS has a 43-year history of being at the front-line of mental health care for Vashon, and continues to provide these services today regardless of ability to pay. Counselors are meeting with clients in person at the office, over the phone, or by video conference. For in-person meetings, appropriate hygiene and social distancing are being practiced at all times. Counselors are available for those in need by calling 206-463-5511.
COVID-19 is causing great stress and anxiety within families and helping families cope with the crisis is a critical service. VYFS Family Place continues to provide parenting support and counseling, offering in person video chat in place of in person home visitations. The Family Place play space on Gorsuch Road is closed until further notice, but the staff are still available to provide baby boxes for new parents, and to help families get the resources they need from Family Place’s free community closet. The staff at Family Place can be reached by email at email@example.com.
VYFS Oasis Case Management and Emergency Services program continues to work with clients via phone and email to provide emergency vouchers, including travel vouchers to ensure that Islanders who get sick have the funds necessary to travel off-island to hospitals. People in need of vouchers can contact Deborah Rieschl at firstname.lastname@example.org or Meg FitzGerald at email@example.com or call 207-200-6788.
The Latino Outreach program continues to serve Spanish speaking Islanders, providing resources and translation services for all VYFS programs. This program is also providing resources through the school district, helping our Latino neighbors to navigate meal access, assisting with computer and internet access for students, and keeping families informed about COVID-19.
VYFS continues to work on the frontlines of this crisis and provide the social services the Vashon Island community needs. More information about services available can be found at vyfs.org or by calling 206-463-5511.