Isla Vista Youth Projects — a community program that provides support and educational tools to families and children — is using its transition to online services to provide childcare, food delivery and other resources to families impacted by coronavirus.
Isla Vista Youth Projects (IVYP) usually provides year-round, full-day childcare — for children up to five years of age — and after-school care at Isla Vista Elementary and El Camino Elementary. But the coronavirus pandemic has forced the group to convert its services into an online platform, according to Lori Goodman, the program’s director.
Now, IVYP has pivoted to online materials, including activities and games that children and their parents can participate in together in lieu of IVYP’s normal services, Goodman said. But she added that bridging the digital divide has been a struggle for many families who use the online programs.
“Not only do our families not have the kinds of computers they need and the Wi-Fi strength they need, they don’t have the computer literacy, and the same goes for some of our staff,” she said.
While facing challenges from the online-only format, IVYP is continuing to utilize online tools to support its families.
Online materials such as “recreational activities, self-care, mindfulness and academic support” for elementary school-aged children are meant to help families who are struggling to adapt to at-home schooling for kids and remote work for parents, Goodman said.
In addition, the website offers articles in English and Spanish on how to talk to children who are struggling with social distancing and provides information on financial support resources for unemployed or furloughed workers.
IVYP is also implementing an online one-on-one tutoring program through Zoom for students whose parents might not have the skill sets to help them with homework, according to Goodman.
In addition to schooling resources, food insecurity has been “one of the largest issues” among families involved with IVYP, Goodman said.
To support parents who are struggling to put food on the table, IVYP is delivering bagged, prepackaged food to families in I.V. By the third week of April, the program had delivered food to 200 families, and by the fourth week, over 300 families had been helped, according to Goodman. While this week’s numbers aren’t out yet, the growth of the program has been “exponential,” she added.
“We know people are struggling with food,” Goodman said, adding that being able to help people who need it “has been one of [our] biggest hopes.” Food donations are something that “always come up” when talking to families in I.V., she added.
Goodman said that IVYP is also working with “extremely vulnerable” populations in the I.V. community, such as undocumented immigrants.
Since undocumented immigrants do not qualify to receive federal aid or stimulus checks, Goodman said that IVYP has been working with those families who are “out of a job, still paying taxes and becoming desperate” to provide them with community services and programs like the 805 UndocuFund, which can help provide financial assistance.
While IVYP has seen success in helping those in need, other ventures from the community organization have been put on hold, Goodman said. Recent plans to host community events and other programs with the I.V. Community Services District (I.V. CSD) have been stalled, with no date in sight to resume, she added.
“We’ll see how coronavirus impacts these plans, but we always want as much cooperation from the CSD as we can so we can put our resources together,” Goodman said.