COVID-19: Supports and Resources for Family and Youth

FOR IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE:
If you are concerned that a child or youth is at imminent risk of harm, please call 911.  If your matter is an urgent concern, Telehealth Ontario may be contacted through 1-866-797-0000.

The DDSB recognizes that the COVID-19 crisis has had an impact on the students and families across the Region and that each family and individual will have their own unique needs, which may change over time. 

We also realize that families have their own resourceful ways of managing stressful times and difficult circumstances.

To assist, members of Inclusive Student Services and School Mental Health/Well-Being departments have compiled various resources, tips, ideas, and community supports that may be helpful to you and your family as you navigate the coming weeks. 

These resources will be updated and new ones will be added as they become available to us.  

Again, different families have differing needs.  We hope that some of these resources will be of benefit to you and provide additional help in these challenging times. Our team remains available during this time to help support you and your family.  Please reach out to your school Principal (via email or school voicemail) who can help connect you with our team. 

Parents/Guardians with Children

parents and child doing homeworkDuring uncertain times, many parents and caregivers are looking for information on how best to support their children with learning while physically away from school. It’s important to remember that it's quite normal for any child to display some behaviours that might seem “out of character” when there are changes to their everyday world: they may seem more concerned, more withdrawn, or act out in ways that you would not expect. Understanding that this may be your child’s stress response showing as ‘fight or flight’ is important, because it is normal.

These resources may be of help:

 

Supporting My Child's Learning

Finding creative ways to keep learning going and to give your child opportunities for safe social contact is important.

Things to Remember

  • learning doesn't only happen through worksheets - talk with your kids about 'big ideas' or 'questions of the day' - focussing on oral communication while learning at home is just as important for brain development
  • everyday activities can be opportunities to learn at home (e.g. cooking, calculating distance during a walk in the community, writing/fine motor activities with sidewalk chalk, writing a text/letter/e-mail to a loved one)

Setting Up a Home Work Environment

  • physical environment: Careful consideration for location for work space. Check: is it free of distractions? Is there access to necessary materials? (ie. Plug for computer / adequate lighting)
  • create a learning space where the child knows this is where they are to be for a set period of time or for set activities
  • look at pictures of simple work stations/systems as samples
  • focus on the positives and praise/celebrate even the smallest successes
  • consider: is my learner able to complete these tasks independently? If no, what are some strategies they can use until an adult is available for support? (ie. Write questions on a post-it note, use free online tutoring support like TVO mathify, "ask a friend or family member")

Importance of Routine and Structure

  • use a timer and visuals as much as you can - they don't need to be fancy
  • chunk the time - use a task/break routine - set realistic expectations for yourself and your child - start slow and gradually increase the time
  • Low tech options to create schedules:
    •  whiteboard with a to-do list
    •  post-it notes
    •  a basket / pile of "to-do", that can be placed in a finished basket / pile when completed
Children with Special Needs

During uncertain times, many parents and caregivers are looking for information specific to their child with special needs. It’s important to remember, despite the nature of your child’s special needs, it’s quite normal for any child to display some behaviours that might seem “out of character” when there are changes to their everyday world: they may seem more concerned, more withdrawn, or act out in ways that you would not expect. Understanding that this may be your child’s stress response showing as ‘fight or flight’ is important, because it is normal.

Finding creative ways to give your child opportunities for safe social contact is important. These resources may be of help:

Talking with children about COVID- can be assisted via social stories and narratives, as which can be found on:

A sense of routine also is important!

Setting up routines and schedules: 

Additional links to help your child with Special Needs at Home

Mental Health and Well-Being

During these uncertain times, children may have a variety of questions and concerns around COVID-19, social distancing, and what this means for them. They may not have the words to describe what they are feeling and seem more anxious, or perhaps withdrawn. It is understandable that during this time of isolation and disrupted routines, children may respond or behave in ways that appear ‘out of character’ It is important that we have open conversations with our children about what they are experiencing.

These resources may be of assistance as caregivers talk with their child about feelings and concerns during this time. 

Supporting my child who may be anxious:

Self Care/Caregiver Stress
Community Supports and Social Assistance

As the situation unfolds over the next few weeks, the needs of your family may change. What may be of importance to you this week may look different in a couple of weeks; we have learned that this is a rapidly changing reality.

Essential Durham Resources for Families - Quick Reference Guide

Essential Durham Resources for Families

Community Partnerships - Support Through COVID-19

Parents/Guardians with 'Tweens & Teens

tweens helping in the kitchenHaving ‘tweens and teens confined to home during the COVID crisis may not be as labor-intensive as being ‘holed up’ with small children, but it definitely has its challenges. To use a term coined by the New York Times: your family may be “quaranteened.”

The first challenge with tweens and teens may be getting them to comply with the guidelines for social distancing. For teenagers and young adults, friends are hugely important, as they are supposed to be!

A second challenge may relate to many students losing out on important experiences: sports seasons, proms, graduations, etc.

For some tweens and teens, being at home more often may feel like they are moving toward being more dependent than independent, which is the opposite of where their natural growth process is going.

All of these issues may lead to frustration, disappointment and resentment. As a parent or caregiver, you may be in the direct line of where these natural emotions take your teen.

So, if your tween or teen is struggling with being “stuck” at home, a direct conversation might be helpful:

  • acknowledge that you know it’s frustrating or upsetting for them to be missing out on events, activities and friends;
  • listen to what they’re feeling and validate those feelings;
  • answer their questions about COVID, with the help of the following link;
  • be direct about how you can work together to make this situation ‘bearable;’
  • support creative solutions to concerns, eg: accessing social contacts via video chats 
'Tweens And Teens With Special Needs

During uncertain times, many parents and caregivers are looking for information specific to their child with special needs. It’s important to remember, despite the nature of your child’s special needs, it’s quite normal for any child to display some behaviours that might seem “out of character” when there are changes to their everyday world: they may seem more concerned, more withdrawn, or act out in ways that you would not expect. Understanding that this may be your child’s stress response showing as ‘fight or ‘flight’ is important, because it is normal, though may be magnified, depending on the nature of your child’s special needs.

Finding creative ways to give your tweens and teens opportunities for safe social contact and a sense of routine is also important.

These resources may help:

Setting up routines and schedules:

Additional links to help your child with Special Needs at Home

Supporting my Teen’s Mental Health:

Mental Health and Well-Being

Have a straight talk with your tweens and teens about COVID and answer their questions with the help of this link

Supporting my teen’s mental health:

Resources for Mental Health and Developmental Support & Updates on Service during COVID-19

As the situation unfolds over the next few weeks, the needs of your family may change. What may be of importance to you this week may look different in a couple of weeks; we have learned that this is a rapidly changing reality.

Essential Durham Resources for Families - Quick Reference Guide

Essential Durham Resources for Families

Community Partnerships - Support Through COVID-19

 

Self Care/Caregiver Stress

Kids & Youth

parent and youthWith the COVID-19 crisis, your daily routine and ability to connect with friends and important supports has really been disrupted for you. Things may seem uncertain for you right now. Remember to connect with your parent, caregiver, or trusted adults in your life to talk about what is on your mind and what you might need.

These resources may be of assistance to find some support for your own mental health and well being:

 

 

Supports for Students

Resources

As the situation unfolds over the next few weeks, your needs and/or the needs of your family may change. What may be of importance to you this week may look different in a couple of weeks. 

Essential Durham Resources for Families - Quick Reference Guide

Essential Durham Resources for Families

Community Partnerships - Support Through COVID-19

Self Care/Caregiver Stress

Resources

As the situation unfolds over the next few weeks, your needs and/or the needs of your family may change. What may be of importance to you this week may look different in a couple of weeks. 

Essential Durham Resources for Families - Quick Reference Guide

Essential Durham Resources for Families

Community Partnerships - Support Through COVID-19