During the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 crisis, Kempe is committed to supporting the frontline workers who continue to care for Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens – our children and youth. The Kempe Center recently launched its Kempe COVID-19 Virtual Village to allow these frontline workers to connect with experts, share best practices and generate solutions for protecting children and helping families during these challenging times.

The Kempe COVID-19 Virtual Village is an online, integrated learning environment and open space for all child welfare health professionals, legal experts, law enforcement and others who are working to prevent and treat child maltreatment.

The Virtual Village hosted its first two online learning sessions on April 8 & 9, featuring Dr. Steve Berkowitz, a child psychiatrist and expert in stress, trauma and resilience from the University of Colorado Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Berkowitz’s session centered on understanding what it means to be a professional working in service of children and families during this pandemic.

Following his presentation, attendees participated in a conversation highlighting the challenges they’re currently facing due to today’s unprecedented challenges. Both sessions were well-received, with both reaching maximum registration capacity.

The Virtual Village will continue to evolve as we gather additional feedback from professionals in the field. The goal is to provide the following:

  • A series of online conversations
  • A virtual library of resources
  • An ability to connect with local and national professionals from child welfare, healthcare providers/workers, kinship/foster parents, mental health professionals, legal experts, law enforcement and others working to prevent and treat child maltreatment
  • Vetted tools, data and information

The Kempe Center’s Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program, a positive youth development program that uses mentoring and skills training to empower youth to foster their own healthy futures, has also transitioned online to continue to support these vulnerable youth.

The FHF program is structured into two key components — skills group curriculum and one-on-one mentoring, both of which have had 100% participation since launching just two weeks ago. Both the skills group and mentor/mentees are using phone and video conferencing to conduct all sessions.

Jessica Corvinus, director of dissemination for the FHF program, says the change from in-person to online communication was a quick adaptation — one that has been embraced fully by those who run the program and its participants.

“Many of the children we serve are vulnerable for a host of different reasons, so I think there’s a lot of uncertainly with everything else going on, and it’s nice that we’re able to remain consistent. Our mentors always show up and this further demonstrates that we’re all still here and that we are able to provide that stability in this uncertain environment,” said Corvinus.

For more information on how Kempe is adapting during this time, stay tuned for our next Kempe In Action email on April 29, 2020.