Compassion in Crisis: LSI on the Frontlines

COVID-19 has turned our lives upside-down. But nothing will stand in the way of our mission of hope and healing. As part of our Compassion in Crisis Campaign, we’re sharing five stories from our workers on the frontlines, who continue to make a difference in the lives of Iowa children and families.

Our goal is to raise funds to support our team members who are still providing care in our communities. Can you help?

Family Safety, Risk, and Permanency Services

COVID-19 has intensified the already precarious situations of families at risk of substance use, domestic violence, and child abuse. LSI has increased our service to these families to ensure children stay safe and families stay strong.

LSI Care Coordinator Samantha is still serving these families every day through virtual home visits, keeping Iowa kids safe during this crisis. Samantha now checks in via video conference several times a week with families she previously visited once per week, providing parenting education and resources and monitoring child safety. She has helped several clients sign up for unemployment. She went shopping for an 80-year-old client who could not risk leaving her home. She set up a laptop for a young child who needed to connect with his school online. She signed up families for meal programs in their communities. She’s providing online resources for parents who struggle with addiction, so they can continue attending the critical meetings they need to aid in their sobriety.

And, when clients are at a higher risk of abuse, Samantha and her team are donning personal protective equipment so they can safely enter a family home. “I am scared of bringing this virus back to my own family,” Samantha says. “But child abuse does not stop, even when the world does.

Clinical Services

LSI social worker Megan is still providing critical services to teenagers in the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center. Kids who’ve experienced trauma are often triggered by chaos. This can lead to increased negative behaviors, anxiety, and depression in a population that is already at greater risk for these challenges. Megan is leading mindfulness and coping exercises for staff and youth at the detention center, and she has increased her one-on-one time with kids who need extra support right now. Calmer kids lead to a safer environment.

On top of that, Megan and our entire team of expert therapists are also providing teletherapy via video to support clients who may be struggling through stressful home lives or strained relationships. In the first month of using teletherapy, the team provided 14,937 minutes of therapy to individuals and completed 32 mental health assessments through teletherapy. On short notice, this team has adapted to the unexpected changes of using phones and laptops to engage with the Iowans they serve.

Residential Treatment

Life has changed drastically for the children at LSI’s Beloit Residential Treatment Center. They are now unable to see their families in person or spend time with their friends at school. Their LSI team is working overtime to create new activities to keep kids busy and happy and provide consistent support for them during this difficult time.

LSI Service Coordinator Jessi and her team have introduced themes like “Dino Week” and “Shark Week,” where kids create art projects and make treats related to the theme. Kids can also participate in weekly art sessions held virtually with a class of Iowa State University students, and the Beloit team is working on hosting talent shows and plays for the kids to perform for each other.

But Jessi feels like she is at a crossroad. She is scared to leave home every day and risk contracting the virus during her long hours at work, then bring it home to her seven-month-old son. But she also knows the kids she serves are counting on her to provide a safe, structured environment for them at Beloit. “My heart is in two places,” she says. “I’m worried I’ll be forced to choose between my own child and the children who don’t have anyone else.”

Services for People with Disabilities

Our mission at LSI is to empower Iowans with disabilities as they build lives independence and engage in their communities. That mission has not stopped during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ada works as a team leader in LSI’s Harmony House in Muscatine. The home provides 24/7 care to five Iowans with intensive disabilities and medical conditions. Ada’s clients cannot get out of bed or complete their hygiene routines on their own. So Ada is still there. They cannot make meals or snacks on their own. So Ada is still there. They cannot take their needed medications or navigate safely around their home on their own. So Ada is still there. Because of COVID, the residents at Harmony House are not able to safely see their families or participate in volunteering or work, as some are able to do. So Ada and her team are there to provide a familiar face and structure when everything else feels uncertain. On days when clients feel scared or unsure, Ada and her team provide support and comfort.

Meanwhile, Ada and her team are working longer hours to ensure they follow additional safety precautions, protecting both themselves and the people they serve.

“We are an essential part of their daily life, regardless of whatever storm lies in front of us. My work is needed for my clients to survive,” Ada says. “But they are essential to me and the other staff. They are the reason we do what we do.

When the rest of the world stops, LSI’s work does not. This is only a small portion of the stories we are hearing every day from our staff on the frontlines, and more work needs to be done to support the Iowa children and families we are privileged to serve. Please consider making a gift to our Compassion in Crisis Campaign and supporting the LSI team members who continue to do critical, life-changing work across Iowa.

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