By Ashley Dooley Wohlgemuth

By Ashley Dooley Wohlgemuth

Men, women and families are being affected in so many ways, and our case managers meet our clients where they are.

Click here to read the entire July 2020 newsletter

The pandemic and stay-at-home orders have taken a toll on all of us. Life is different in 2020. Especially within Children & Family Services, we’ve seen families with children affected in a myriad of ways, with unique obstacles and idiosyncrasies to be navigated.

WORK When it comes to employment, our clients have been facing many different problems. Some parents working in essential industries like healthcare or the food industry are working overtime and are facing more health risks, while others are working from home or are laid off. Each of these types of parents have experienced different challenges. Parents still working have had to find safe and affordable or juggle watching their kids while working remotely—neither an easy task.

Parents who were laid off have had a difficult time finding employment. The challenges have ranged from potential employers being closed down, to not having access to the internet to look for job openings.

Client story: One client was a server/busser at a local St. Joseph restaurant. She has been out of work for weeks and has not been approved for unemployment. Catholic Charities was able to help her by paying her electric bill, purchasing diapers and wipes for her two small children, and be a calming voice as she often vocalized how fearful she was of getting the virus itself.

SCHOOLING Most students in our diocese did not return to classes after spring break. This meant a whole quarter of potential learning was lost for many families. The economic divide between families of affluence and families in poverty further extenuates a digital divide. Nearly one half of the children in the Kansas City Public Schools did not engage in online learning during the school closures in the spring, many of whom did not have access to internet or necessary technology.

Children and adults without internet at home often use libraries and community centers, but those, too, were closed for weeks on end. While cell phone companies and internet providers offered gracious opportunities to help keep kids connected, it did not matter in homes where they did not have a smart phone, tablet, or computer to use.

For families that did have engage in online learning, parents reported it being very stressful to manage everything at home as well as comments about being “stretched” as they became a teacher overnight.

Client story: This single mother was able to do her desk job from home. She did not have computers for her two school age children to access the virtual learning offered through the school district. The Catholic Charities case manager worked with Geeks for God to get a desktop computer donated to the family so the older children could continue learning. The mother’s days involve constantly juggling between working and assisting her children.

FEEDING THE FAMILY During the past four months, food assistance has been made a priority through governmental assistance and local social service agencies. In the first three months alone, six million people signed up for food stamps. The USDA recently approved the use of food stamps to make online purchases of food—something that helped ease the worries of a number of parents. Additionally, the schools continued to serve meals via drive thru service several days a week, and there have been various mass food distributions, including two that Catholic Charities participated in.

Client story: Not being able to bring children into stores and buildings has been difficult for mothers with no support system during day. They either have no one that can watch their children, or they are fearful to have other people in their residence that could expose their children to germs. They also worry about the safety of their children, especially younger children that put their hands and other objects in their mouth continually, if they have to bring them to the store. Catholic Charities has been able to aid parents by ordering needed groceries online and have them delivered or available for pick-up.

Catholic Charities’ Children & Family Services is working hard to support our clients amidst difficult circumstances and nuanced challenges. For more information on our various services, contact us at


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