SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -The multi-agency resource center in Savannah known as The Front Porch aims to keep kids 17 and younger out of the court systems in Chatham County.
Like other advocacy agencies, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the centers leaders to re-think how they can keep serving the community effectively and safely.
The Front Porch has helped hundreds of families since it first opened toward the end of 2018, working directly with the school system and juvenile courts as well as health and wellness resources.
“We want to link them with resources in the community, and make sure that they have a successful upbringing,” says director Sheryl Jones.
But Jones admits, the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the community have made effort more challenging, but not impossible.
“What we do is we do video conferencing like we’re doing now. And we’re also as we’re linking them to services those services are doing the same thing. So we’re trying to stay connected.”
Jones says numbers of kids coming in for help have gone down since the health crisis began.
“Parents are afraid to actually bring their kids," she says. "And we’re constantly trying to get the word out that we’re available by video conferencing or by phone.”
Starting last week, The Front Porch loosened up their ‘by appointment only’ rule. Jones says they are now able to have families inside the building, taking precautions to make sure clients are virus-free beforehand.
“We check their temperatures we ask various questions about have they been out of the country, or have they been connected with anyone who may have had COVID or have they had a fever over 100,” she says.
These steps will be part of their new norm, but Jones says it won’t keep The Front Porch from achieving its goals of keeping kids safe, healthy, and out of the court system.