Children and homeless services available during pandemic

(File photo by Melanie Irwin,

Chatham Kent Children’s Services wants the public to know they are still open to help and support children, youth, and families in Chatham-Kent during the COVID-19 emergency.

The agency said it has adapted service delivery to ensure the safety and well-being of the community and its staff by using technology in innovative ways and has phone and virtual supports available.

“Our social media accounts are active with resources and tips,” said Teri Thomas-Vanos, Executive Director.

She said Chatham Kent Children’s Services is committed to strengthening kids and families for a better future.

“We are stronger together,” she added.

Meanwhile, Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said it is very difficult to give advice to separated or divorced parents about shared parenting duties and visits during the pandemic. He said, ideally, children should stay confined to one household to reduce their risk of getting the COVID-19 virus but sometimes that is not achievable and it depends on the needs of individual families.

Colby is a father and a grandfather and said shared parenting is a difficult issue.

“I can’t say you can’t see your children but we have to try and strike a common sense balance to keep everybody safe,” he said.

He said children can be a source of spread and limiting exposure to older people such as grandparents is a big issue because they are at risk of getting sick.

The municipality is also working to keep the homeless safe from the virus.

Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire said plans are underway to house homeless people who contract COVID-19.

“It’s a major concern,” he said. “We want to provide them with a safe place where they can self-isolate.”

Shropshire said his staff is working on several options to provide that type of support for the homeless.

He added the local United Way already has supports in place to help the homeless stay safe and keep proper social distancing during the crisis.