Square One Responds to Keep Children, Families Safe and Healthy

SPRINGFIELD — As one of the region’s largest providers of childcare and family-support services, Square One is continuing to provide essential services to support the children and families who rely on them.

“This is a very unsettling time for everyone,” said Joan Kagan, president and CEO. “But for families who rely on us, and other social-services agencies, to meet their basic needs, the stress and fear they are experiencing is heightened. It is critical that they know where to go to access what they need. Most importantly, we want to make sure they do not feel isolated.”

The large majority of Square One families come from situations involving poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, incarceration, substance abuse, domestic violence, or other significant issues, Kagan explained. 

Square One’s case workers and home visitors remain connected with the 1,500 families in its family-support programs virtually and over the phone on a regular basis. The agency is regularly providing families with resources and tools, such as food availability, homeschooling support, and emergency supplies of diapers and baby formula.

Programs such as support groups for parents in addiction recovery are being held virtually. The agency’s therapists and social workers are also holding virtual or phone appointments to support their continued social emotional health and well-being.

Square One’s preschool and school-age teachers are personally communicating with all 500 children and families in its learning programs, while the early learning centers and family childcare providers remain closed. They will be performing virtual story readings, fitness demonstrations, and other lessons that the organization will be sharing via social media.

For families who work in essential job functions, such as hospitals, grocery stores, and others, and who may be in need of emergency drop-in childcare services, childcare providers approved by the state Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) are available to provide emergency care for children. The list of providers can be found on the EEC website. Square One’s team is available to help families navigate that list and the rules surrounding these emergency services.

“We are grateful to everyone who has reached out to us to see how they can be supportive to the families we are serving,” Kagan said. “What we need most are cash donations, so that we can continue to provide our families with the programs and services they need right now. This is particularly important as some of our anticipated funding streams have been postponed or canceled altogether.”

To make a donation, visit www.startatsquareone.org or contact Kris Allard at kallard@startatsquareone.org or by calling (508) 942-3147. Those in need of emergency support can call Square One’s emergency on-call number at (413) 478-5197.

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