March 28, 2020
PORTLAND, Ore. – The following is a statement from Friends of the Children CEO Terri Sorensen on the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act:
"Friends of the Children is relieved that Members of Congress and President Trump moved quickly to pass the sweeping $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the largest economic relief package in modern U.S. history.
Our youth and families are incredibly resilient. We see their grit and perseverance in action every day. Already challenged to make ends meet, maintain safe housing, and have access to adequate physical and mental health care, we are also working to close the gaps for our youth and their families who are being disproportionately harmed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Our top priorities during this stressful time are to stay connected with our youth and their families, make sure our youth are safe, their needs are met and that they have the opportunity to continue to learn. Friends are paid, professional mentors who—under normal circumstances—spend 3 to 4 hours a week with each youth in person—for 12+ years, no matter what. While we live through this unprecedented pandemic, our Friends continue to work full time in service to our youth.
We have had to completely reimagine our program service model in order to keep our ‘no matter what’ commitment. Friends have become incredibly innovative in how they are connecting with youth and families – dropping off supplies and activities, reading books or doing math over the phone, and connecting through technology when our youth have that available.
Friends also serve as a critical protective factor in our youth’s lives. In some cases, Friends may be the only connection to another safe and caring adult. Because our youth and families are facing multiple and compounding stressors, we have ramped up support to parents and caregivers to ensure they feel supported, have access to resources and can create safe environments for their children.
We can’t do this critical work without adequate funding to support our Friends. While our network is strong and serving thousands of youth and families across the country, our chapters are among the 99 percent of nonprofits in the U.S. with less than 500 employees. That’s why we were encouraged to see the additional support in the CARES Act being provided to nonprofits and expanded charitable deduction opportunities for our donors. Financial support and sustainability are especially critical for people-serving organizations like ours that now, more than ever, need additional resources to serve our most vulnerable populations.
Our hope is that this bill, along with Friends of the Children’s support, will bring immediate economic and social support to our youth and families. We are a ‘no matter what’ organization, and that is especially true right now. While we continue to analyze the impact of
this critical piece of legislation for our network and our families, we
want to thank our nation’s elected officials for their ongoing work to
protect our health care workers on the front lines of this crisis, while
also prioritizing the health and well-being of children, families and
small businesses across the country."