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Dear Friends,

Just a few weeks ago, the world looked completely different. Simple, every day activities like going to school, eating out, or visiting a friend are now being replaced with e-learning, stressful trips to the grocery store, and virtual group chats. These changes coupled with the unknown of it all can be overwhelming, so I wanted to connect with our friends and community to share how Youth Services is managing today:

  • As soon as we heard the possibility of shut-down, the first priority became setting up our clinicians for remote work. This was made possible thanks to donated laptops by a very generous donor and the support of an IT volunteer, allowing our skilled staff to continue their vital work.
  • Individual and group therapy services have continued through HIPPA compliant teletherapy software, which has been approved for mental health services coverage by insurance companies. Our generous sliding fee scale remains intact and available to those who need it.
  • Our Pride Programs continue to meet virtually. Click here for the latest updates on these programs.
  • Our dedicated staff is meeting virtually every week to assess current and emerging needs of area youth and voicemail messages left on the agency’s main line (847-724-2620) are checked daily.     

Unfortunately, we have had to make the very difficult decision to cancel the remainder of this school year’s after school programs, which includes Study Buddies. These programs directly impact the most underserved families in our community and this decision is not one we can take lightly. The loss of these programs paired with the expected economic impact for all of us will undoubtedly result in a steep increase in need once our doors open again. Our fundraising efforts are more vital than ever as we prepare to best support our community’s needs and we are working hard to ensure our programs remain open and available to those who will need them most.

Most importantly, we want to be here for you. We recognize how stressful this time can be, especially for families with children in the home. There are several things parents can do to help ease their child’s anxiety and we find these CDC-recommended action steps to be especially helpful:

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model.  Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

Lastly, I am reminded daily just how resilient our community of clients, parents, volunteers, and donors are in the most uncertain and vulnerable of times. It is because of this resilience that we here at Youth Services remain hopeful and dedicated to delivering our important mission.

If you are able to help us financially, please know that every contribution right now will make a difference. We are also sharing daily updates, resources, and additional information on our Facebook and Instagram page through this experience.

Sending warmth, care, and kindness to each of you,

Amy O’Leary
Executive Director