How do you prepare for a family emergency?
By Mohan Kanungo, Director of Parent Services
Headlines of devastated children left without their parents as well as the recent shootings in El Paso, Dayton and Gilroy, have led many of us to question what we would do to protect our families in case of an emergency.
We may feel knowledgeable about how to prepare for natural disasters like earthquakes or fires, but not know how to have conversations with loved ones on other tough topics like immigration or violence. When disaster strikes, families of mixed immigration status may face uncertainty about engaging legal or social services they fear could lead to detention or deportation.
As Director of Parent Services at Children’s Council of San Francisco, I want you to know that you are not alone. And, as a member of a family disrupted – a domestic violence incident led to the deportation of my stepfather to Brazil – I speak from firsthand experience: what feels insurmountable now does not have to define your future.
At Children’s Council, we embrace a family support model to provide services related to accessing quality, affordable child care, in addition to resources integral to ensuring your family’s overall well-being. We also provide opportunities to learn from experts in the field and build your peer support network with parents and caregivers.
So, if you are feeling stuck, or experiencing a sense of isolation or fear, remember: all of us at Children’s Council are committed to you and your loved ones.
Here are a few steps you might take to feel more prepared and supported through the power of community:
- Start a conversation with your kids about the “tough stuff.” Art, play and story-telling can help young children cope and communicate through big emotions. Check out this book list curated by Tandem, Partners in Early Learning® and a handout with tips on how to navigate difficult topics like incarceration, divorce or even the loss of a job.
- Register for community gatherings through Children’s Council’s website. We offer Tuesday Playgroups, a monthly “Parent Cafe” and other workshops and fun activities for all families. Our City Kids Family Fair on Saturday, September 21 is an awesome, free community event – we hope you can join us!
- Complete a family preparedness plan. This Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)’s sample plan is available in English, Chinese and Spanish, and is a useful guide for all families – regardless of immigration status – to help prepare for an emergency. It includes instructions on how to complete a child care affidavit so a relative can care for a child in a parent’s temporary absence.
- Know your rights. We have compiled a wide variety of resources on legal topics for immigrant families including what’s been published so far about rules related to “public charge.” You may also watch the “We Have Rights” video series and have the 24 Hour Rapid Response Line (415.200.1548) pre-programmed in your phone to safely report and connect with legal services if someone you know is detained.
We welcome all families to share their concerns and questions, so that we can be continuously responsive to the needs of all families in San Francisco. There’s little disagreement that those most impacted by recent tragedies in the short and long-term are children.
Children’s Council is here to support you and those you love!