SIERRA COUNTY CHILDREN AND FAMILIES COMMISSION
MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING
TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2020 * 11:00 A.M.
As authorized by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order, N-25-20, dated March 12, 2020, the meeting will be held via teleconferencing with members of the Commission attending from separate remote locations. The meeting will be conducted virtually, accessible on the internet or by telephone. Members of the public will be able to join the webcast (instructions below) and shall have the right to observe and offer public comment. This altered format is in observance of the recommendation by local officials that certain precautions be taken, including social distancing, to address the threat of COVID-19.
The Sierra County Children and Families Commission met on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, at 11:00 A.M. via videoconferencing through Zoom, led by Mary Wright, Chairperson.
The meeting was called to order at 11:04 A.M. by Chairperson Mary Wright.
Mary Wright led the Flag Salute.
Present: James Beard, Laurie Marsh, Mary Wright, Anne Reugebrink
Absent: Andrea Ceresola White, Shanna Anseth
Staff Members Present:
Allison Smith, Executive Director
Kelly Norton Champion, Business Manager
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Mr. Beard moved to approve the agenda, Ms. Reugebrink seconded the motion, and the agenda was unanimously approved.
There was no public comment.
Ms. Smith discussed the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on children, families and childcare providers. She and Ms. Champion have been calling all families on the First 5 mailing list to check in and determine any immediate needs. Most families report they are generally financially okay, so far, but very stressed with having their children at home full-time. Some families are experiencing loss of income. Sierra Kids Child Development Center has asked all parents whose children had been attending preschool only and who do not need full day care to keep their children at home. Sierra Kids has taken on several older children whose parents are still working as essential workers, and they need daycare for their school age children. Ms. Smith reported that she assisted with the Food Bank distribution and learned that only two families with children age 0-5 were utilizing this resource. Ms. Smith is working to put together bags for parents that include information on crisis support, how to take the Census, and books, markers, chalk, flower & vegetable seeds and activity sheets for children. She will distribute activity bags to all families on the First 5 mailing list. Ms. Smith is developing a contract with Lindsay McIntosh and Musica Sierra to get Ms. McIntosh to do the teacher training as quickly as possible and to provide online FB Live Music Together classes for parents during this stay-at-home time.
Establish Discretionary Emergency Funding for Families Affected by COVID19
Ms. Smith discussed the need to create an Emergency Fund for Families Affected by Covid-19. Families may be experiencing drastic economic impacts as they lose work. An increase in both child abuse and domestic violence has been predicted by experts due to the intensity of the stress brought on by loss of work and long-term quarantine. First 5 Sierra wants to ensure that families are able to maintain their residences as well as provide food and other necessities at this time. Ms. Marsh noted that families with a sick family member in the home may be experiencing the greatest stress of all. Motion was made to establish an Emergency Fund for Families Affected by Covid-19 in the amount of $10,000, with disbursement plan to be developed as emerging needs are identified.
Temporary Change to Check Signature Process due to COVID19 — Allow for single signer with check approval by Commissioner
Ms. Smith proposed that the check approval process would now require Ms. Champion to email a list of checks to all Commissioners. An email of approval of the check list would be needed by one Commissioner. Upon receipt of approval email, Director will sign and mail checks. Policy ongoing until restrictions on gathering are lifted by Sierra County Public Health.
Temporary Change to Preschool Attendance Policy – Increase allowable absences with home-preschool support during Shelter-in-Place Order
Ms. Smith discussed that both of our childcare providers, Sierra Kids and Ketchum Daycare have preschoolers who are staying home, which translates to loss of income for providers and loss of education for our youngsters. Motion was made to change the First 5 Sierra policy to increase the allowable absences to up to 50 absences total per child, with providers agreeing to continue to support parents with weekly preschool activity packets. Policy change included a waiver of parental signature for these absences.
Increase Staff Time to allow for COVID19 Response and IMPACT/QCC and Workforce Development Grant Writing
Ms. Smith discussed that the work involved with responding to the Covid-19 crisis has increased her workload significantly, as well as the time involved with writing the IMPACT/QCC RFA and likely the upcoming Workforce Development grant. She asked the Commission to approve an increase in staff hours to allow for both of these activities. She noted that she will update the Commission on the total hours spent on these activities at the following May 15 Commission meeting. Motion was made to approve increased staff time by Mr. Beard and seconded by Ms. Reugebrink. Motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Marsh reported that Sierra County Mental Health has a warm-line available for anyone to call who is needing emotional support. She advised that Blue Cross has an app providing the same for those who have Blue Cross. Ms. Wright discussed that there is no Food Bank in Downieville/Sierra City due to a lack of working refrigeration.
The next regular meeting of the SCCFC is scheduled to be held on Friday, May 15, 2020, at 9:30 A.M., location TBD.
Mr. Beard moved to adjourn the meeting, Ms. Marsh seconded the motion and with unanimous vote the meeting adjourned at 12:10 P.M.
Submitted by: Allison Smith, Executive Director