Giving Grace Network – Hardships For Children

While the community is trying to flatten the COVID-19 curve with lockdowns and 100% virtual learning, the Giving Grace network has seen those who were already struggling only deepen into their hardships.

The CDC characterizes the COVID-19 pandemic as a serious global health threat. CDC goes on to say that parents are understandably concerned about the safety of their children at school in the wake of COVID-19. As families and policymakers make decisions about their children returning to school, it is important to consider the full spectrum of benefits and risks of both in-person and virtual learning options.

Aside from a child’s home, no other setting has more influence on a child’s health and well-being than their school. The in-person school environment does the following:

• provides educational instruction;
• supports the development of social and emotional skills;
• creates a safe environment for learning;
• addresses nutritional needs; and
• facilitates physical activity.

Giving Grace is a local group that provides support for individuals in the community with acute needs, along with support for ongoing community programs. I asked them to tell us more about who they are and what they are seeing.

Giving Grace network

It would be naive of us to think that all of DeKalb’s children are safer at home, and that remote learning is a fine substitute for an in-person option. There are many instances (hundreds? thousands?) that this is just not the case. The most vulnerable population are those who are in living conditions in DeKalb that simply do not provide for remote learning. There are organizations that help support this population, and one is the Giving Grace network.

The Giving Grace network primarily serves persons in our Atlanta communities that have acute needs which threaten them with displacement and the loss of meaningful connections. The goal is to ensure they can maintain a healthy, secure presence in the community to give them the best chance of success moving forward. Their efforts are geared toward single-parent families, persons experiencing homelessness, and the extremely poor. Their approach is simple:

• The network provides financial or in-kind assistance for members of the community facing acute emergency needs.
• A support and sustainability plan is created with the community-member to help move them beyond the need.
• Network members and/or staff continue to walk alongside the community-member to offer support and encouragement.

During this time of school buildings being closed, the Giving Grace network has seen those who were already struggling only deepen into their hardships. Here are some of the examples that were shared with me that they have personally witnessed:

Countless families are not aware that school systems are giving out food, computers, etc. There is a gap in communication or lack of.

One family is not sending their kids back to school until they are in person, mom does not know anything about computers or even how to turn it on.

One family has a child that was suspended the week that school went to virtual learning in March. His mother has not been able to get him online since March, and no one at his local school has been able to help him.

Special education high school student who struggles to read the computer screen. Her mom has to print off everything so that she can join in. On weeks her mother cannot afford computer ink, she’s not able to participate.

Mom with three kids works at a daycare. She has to bring all three kids with her to work. She’s only able to assist them on her break. If they have a problem, they just have to sit and wait.

Mom works an hourly job. In order to keep her job, she has to pay for a learning pod each week which is $150. She only makes $300 a week. She has no idea how she’s going to pay rent this month.

We have a transient family who is either staying with friends or in a hotel nightly.  They don’t have regular access to Internet. They login when they are able to.

A family currently has no power. No power means no Internet!

Mom doesn’t know how to read. Her kids have not attended school since March. 

An elementary school child is supposed to read several books a week. This family owns one book. Getting for the library would require Marta. Mom barely has enough money to pay bills, much less Marta fare.

Family lives in a hotel. Wifi is an additional charge each week. Mom barely makes enough money to pay the hotel rooms, much less Wi-Fi.

Homeless family staying in the shelter. They have to be out each morning by six. Library‘s are closed. Coffee shops will only allow you to come in if you’re purchasing something. These children are only able to attend school when mom can find free Wi-Fi. They are continuing the homeless cycle because mom cannot get a job when the kids are not in school.

There is a home with multiple families living there. There are nine school-age children. The free Wi-Fi does not have the bandwidth to support nine children on the computer every day. This family is having to choose daily which kids attend class.

Those who insist that schools are unsafe are not seeing the bigger picture. They are fine with remote learning because ‘their child is doing great!’ My hope is that people are able to see beyond their bubbles and understand that their actions are harming those who have no voice.

To donate to Giving Grace, you can do so here, and note that you’d like the donation to go towards those in need of remote learning support:

https://remerge.kindful.com/?campaign=1031067

To follow Giving Grace’s facebook page and find other ways you can support the needs of the community they support, you can do so here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/753366974750959

46 responses to “Giving Grace Network – Hardships For Children

  1. Well, refer them to Giving Grace Network because there is not enough staff willing to risk their life right now. The # of cases have increased so its more important to keep faculty, staff & students safe. School will likely be virtual until the end of the school year

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  2. OG Dunwoody Dad

    Thanks for sharing that, Stan. I looks like a great organization with a great mission. Will definitely support them.

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  3. Great resource to share. While it’s true that school does represent a temporary safe haven for children who are dealing with food insecurity, homelessness, neglect, abuse, and a lack of access to a variety of resources, these problems do not disappear at the end of a school day.

    Imagine if the parents who had paid for those billboards pressuring the superintendent to go back to in-person instruction had diverted that money to support this organization and the DeKalb families that are suffering.

    Yes, there are significant drawbacks to virtual learning. Everyone is making sacrifices at this time. No one is winning. It seems hypocritical to argue that people are not “seeing the bigger picture” when the entire reason for virtual learning is to promote public health in an effort to fight a global pandemic. It doesn’t get much bigger picture than that.

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  4. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention! What a great organization. My family and Girl Scout troop are going to be supporting them to help our community!

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  5. DeKalb is Corrupt

    Oh Anonymous… why do you care or even think you have a right to say how those parents spend their personal money??? That is none of your business. Not to mention,, based on DCSD track history, if they did give it to DeKalb it certainly would not have been spent properly. You don’t want your kids back, great, stay virtual, but a choice should be given. However, why do I have the feeling if F2F was offered you would send your child back ‍♀️ Y’all say follow the science. Yup, take your own advise. It’s working. It can be done. If we are going to say it’s because of poor facilities conditions, well, whose fault is that? This is what happens after years of corruption. But yet you think parents should give DeKalb more money.

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  6. Chamblee HS Parent

    DeKalb’s obsession with case counts will keep us circling the drain forever. Cases are going up in Europe, but guess what they aren’t closing? Schools.

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  7. How about Dekalb Schools divert the $25,000 PER MONTH that they just approved for MARKETING to orgs like Giving Grace. That seems like a much better way to support our kids than whatever the hell this marketing will be used for .

    Stan, the vote was 5 yay, 2 no on the marketing spend. What board members voted yes. The parents all have a right to know.

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  8. Enough with the money for the billboards! Do you know how much they cost???? $3000 The leftover money went to Giving Grace. I guarantee you the same people who donated to the billboards will donate PPE for the schools and whatever else they need.

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  9. Can We Try A Little Harder

    Stan, as a teacher ready to see my students back in school, and teachers back in the classroom safely, that marketing expenditure did seem to highlight the issue perfectly. Central Office should be doing everything they can to get the students back in the schools safely. Schools have been given woefully little guidance on what the hybrid model should look like. Efforts to use data driven best practices for HVAC are met with scorn, and schools will remain closed indefinitely. $25,o00 isn’t enough to make this look good.

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  10. @Billboards – it doesn’t matter if they were $3,000 or $100,000. The reason so many parents are turned off by the F2F efforts is because of the swirl around them. Nearly everything that group says is off-putting. They are so, so disrespectful to teachers. They are the classic examples of white privilege. They make fun of people who are concerned about the virus which completely negates how serious it is for some (not all, but does that matter if it’s someone you love)? There was someone who suggested people stop paying their property tax as a way to “defund” DeKalb County schools. They’ve destroyed any shred of credibility that their movement may have had.

    I’m not suggesting they should have instead donated their measly $3,000 to the County. I’m suggesting they take their thinly veiled “concern” over the situations outlined in this post and cut it out. We all know that F2F group doesn’t give a crap about any of the marginalized kids in DeKalb County and are only using them as they grasp at straws to try to keep their “cause” alive.

    Meanwhile, I’ll continue to work with my kids’ amazing teachers and do the best we can on virtual school. Even though I absolutely, wholeheartedly HATE it and can’t wait until we can return to the classroom.

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  11. Some have a very hard time understanding what an pandemic encompasses. It’s so simple mind and disturbing to not understand the entire word is had to adjust to save lives. The politics behind these so-called good deeds is disturbing as well.

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  12. Isn’t it the parents’ job to provide a safe home and food for their children??? What in the world? Since when did school become a safe haven for children to get out of their home? Why are teachers responsible for rescuing and housing children? We educate them. We are not the welfare system nor DEFACS. Take responsibility parents. You had children, so act like an adult. I’m tired of being the adult for you and reminding you of everything and holding your hand all year. When you decide to have a child it is YOUR responsibility to provide food, shelter, and a safe environment. YOUR responsibility, because you are an adult.

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  13. The day I get to claim my students as dependents when I file income taxes is the day I take responsibility for them.

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  14. @goawayf2f
    Do you know anyone in that group???It is over 1,000 people. If someone makes a Comment about teachers, schools, etc it does not represent all of us. I am in that group and I 100% support the teachers but I also want a choice for my children. I work full time and both of my children have IEPs. They receive a lot of help at school and virtual learning is not going well for us. I can’t afford to quit my job and I can’t just put them in a pod. I do believe most people in the group genuinely care about the kids in Dekalb county and how this is affecting them.

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  15. Billboards spillboards

    The billboards money could and should have been spent here! Such a waste to try and bully the superintendent into opening school. The only way to flatten this curve is to keep our bodies at home until it goes away due to lack of transmission and spread.

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  16. @Billboards – yes, I originally joined the group as I want a F2F option more than anything. Similarly, I work in an incredibly challenging, deadline driven consulting role, as does my husband, and we’ve got 1 child with an IEP (and another that is too little to learn and be on a computer all day).

    Virtual learning is a complete disaster. Complete. I think schools should open, and I worry that DeKalb will not open all school year at the rate we’re going. My efforts to work on the school board are outside of the F2F efforts and are probably 100% more effective – without blasting people, shaming those that take the virus seriously, poking fun at the concerns of teachers, making things political, and all of the other childish tactics deployed by that group.

    That’s great to hear that you aren’t on board with their teacher bashing but it’s unacceptable and discredits much of their efforts. Regardless of what you personally believe, attaching yourself to that group lumps you in with the opinions of a few loud, selfish, and downright nasty people.

    As a side note: our school actually sent out an email encouraging us to be kind to teachers as they are aware of what a very loud, very unrepresentative group is saying about them. What a shame for the kids of those loud mouths who are publicly attacking teachers. People will remember.

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  17. Chamblee HS Parent

    @goawayF2F What is your 100% more effective strategy to get all DeKalb’s children a choice to be back in school? I am sure many of us in support of that choice would love to know and perhaps join in on this strategy.

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  18. @goawayF2F
    I would like to know too . I know a lot of us feel the same way about wanting a choice for our children. I think this virus has brought out a lot of Dekalb County’s short comings that a lot of people weren’t aware of.; buildings, substitutes, etc

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  19. Nah, I’m good @Chamblee HS Parent and @Billboards. I’m not looking for group support. Y’all have shot down plenty of people and ideas so I’m not about to let my name get tangled up with the F2F circus.

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  20. Proof will be in the numbers….
    How many kids aren’t logging on to virtual learning because of problems listed above?
    How many kids have left for homeschool/private/other F2F districts that are open?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if enrollment drops by 50%. Every day, students at our school are leaving and the pace has picked up considerably after supt further delayed reopening.

    Lack of vision/leadership to provide options to parents and educate kids has long-term consequences. I predict County and DCSD will be feeling the funding ramifications of this for years while supt goes onto her next job at another district in short order.

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  21. The county is a mess because of board members and past superintendents.
    They should all be held accountable in a court of law forthe current state of our county’s education
    System. Maybe he can just get them all removed again by the Governor. I think that’s the best way of getting on the right path. Talk about blood on their hands they should be blamed for the cycle of poverty and crime they are putting upon their own community.

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  22. @Anonymous
    As an educator I am very disappointed in your post. People are hurting. Parents are losing jobs because they are home with their kids. School is a safe place for many. Abuse goes up and unchecked when school is our. It’s a fact. Honestly, I’m tired of teachers screaming “We aren’t daycare!” Of course you’re not daycare, but school is part of our economic system. It is a safe place parents send their children 180 days while they are at work. Kids being at home has most certainly hurt the economy. Parents had to pivot their plans and not everyone has the finances to meet their children’s needs and keep their jobs. I’m sorry you feel so burdened with caring for these children. Perhaps it’s time for a career change!

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  23. @wow, it is time. I’m burned out, obviously. I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who makes it 30 years in education. You are amazing.

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  24. Does anyone think the issues outlined in this post are new? They are not. How many of you “we need to be in school” bullies did anything to address these issues in our community prior to COVID? Yeah. I didn’t think so. Stop leaning in on people, communities, and societal tragedies to serve your purpose. There is nothing more pathetic than a group of self-serving people, especially adults who should know by now that not everything in the world is about them.

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  25. The failures of DCSD as relates to technology and communications – concerns that have been expressed for years and dismissed/ignored – are now on display for all to see. If DCSD had been doing its job, Giving Grace would not have to be in the computer/wifi business and would not need to inform parents about the food service or free computers or teach them how to use computers. How many parent centers does DCSD fund and at what expense and ROI? Maybe when the virtual experience ends, they can actually help parents across the district.

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  26. @wow

    Hit nail on the head

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  27. Isn’t it ironic

    I find this post ironic because of all the families without power due to hurricane zeta. We are experiencing some type of hardship at the moment yet no grace is shown to us. Shame on DCSD for continuing online learning. Families should be worried about the safety and wellbeing of their children NOT worried about whether they can attend their Google Meets class or not. DCSD says they want equity in education yet they’ve proven time and time again that its a joke! It’s wildly inappropriate to have school this morning. There should’ve been at least a delayed start to give y’all time to access the number of families impacted by internet outages.

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  28. Lol @ moderation Stan

  29. I agree with posts on both sides of this-

    DCSD is not doing a good job supporting students, families, and staff with clear and timely communication.

    The F2F crowd has been strangely absent in the support of underserved youth in the past. We might see a few people throw together a thanksgiving meal and a Christmas meal, but nothing sustained, and nothing to do anything to change the day to day reality of inadequate food and access.

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  30. Just because the “F2F crowd” hasn’t been visible in doing what some posters think they should do to help needy students in DCSD doesn’t affect the validity of their argument that DCSD should offer a F2F option.

    I don’t happen to agree with the F2F crowd, but these are separate issues. Gee.

  31. HIRE NEW TEACHERS!

    If you don’t want to teach in school building because you aren’t willing to risk your life, you should stay home and make room for someone who IS WILLING to teach the kids in a F2F environment that has been proven safe. I am tired of my child being read to by Youtube! Good grief!

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  32. Uhhhh seriously @HIRE NEW TEACHERS? Re-read what you just wrote. If you think teachers are risking their lives, how can you possibly argue school is safe? This is the exact type of half-baked point you F2F fools continue to make. Either school is safe for all bodies in the building or it isn’t. I swear, you guys are just clueless upon clueless.

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  33. DCSD is out of touch

    The fact that DCSD chose to make today a virtual learning day emphasizes the big issue at hand.
    DCSD leadership is not in touch with the families they serve.
    Today 1m people were without power in Atlanta. No meal service was offered to our student population. PSAT testing was rescheduled because of weather. Teachers and students alike had no power, internet, or both.
    DCSD said we know y’all don’t have power so let’s make it a virtual learning day.
    What an oxymoron DCSD is…

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  34. HIRE NEW TEACHERS!

    @dekalbparent try to re-read it with my obvious eye roll. F2F has been proven safe. I said that and you missed it. I’m so tired of hearing “I want to be in the classroom but not at the risk of my own life”. So once again, insert eye roll so YOU FOOLS don’t misread it. If only teachers weren’t bullied into keeping quiet by the same fearmongers who make those comments and lead this district. Hmmmmm..

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  35. Common Sense Isn't

    https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/10/is-the-slow-approach-to-reopening-schools-failing-kids/

    Just some interesting analysis from a school in Massachusetts. Good points made on filtration/HVAC that DCSD could and should definitely be prioritizing.

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  36. https://www.facebook.com/7746841478/posts/10157502198121479/?vh=e&d=n
    Use solar to power schools and use the savings to improve infrastructure

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  37. Wifi is free for any Dekalb student in need. I’ve directed many students to our principal to request hotspots and no one has been denied at this point.

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  38. Dekalb Do Right

    Gold Case Settlement Payout
    Stan when will the teachers start receiving the Gold case payouts?

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  39. Hello @Dekalb Do Right. I don’t know anything about the payout structure for the recipients of the Gold case. As far as I know, https://www.goldshayeclassaction.com/ is where to go for questions like that.

  40. Has anyone heard anything about the PD pay from Aug?? I have a big reduction in pay due to COVID and need to figure out how I’m going to budget through this. I’ve heard nothing.

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  41. PD Pay-My bookkeeper stated we would get it on the next pay cycle in a separate check.

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  42. @DeKalb Do Right
    According to the You Tube video I watched of the hearing, we should have a check before the holidays. It was stated by the attorney whom I spoke to personally (to make sure I was eligible)-he was very nice and professional I may add. So be on the lookout before the holidays. Also check You Tube for the video link. I couldn’t find it in my phone.

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  43. Wondering in DeKalb

    Kids123
    Do you have a link for the YouTube video?

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  44. @Kids123 Thanksgiving or Christmas (Winter) holidays ?

  45. This is so ironic given you folks could give two shits about poor folks when school is in person. You think too much is spent on student free lunch; you complain about all the money spent on special education; you blame parents for being poor and how they treat their kids. Which is it?

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  46. This is so heartbreaking Stan. Thank you for sharing the information about Giving Grace – what a wonderful group. I will certainly send a donation. This situation is going to have lasting negative effects on so many children – children who were already in a difficult situation. Bless these people at Giving Grace – they have a real heart for children.

    ps – Zuma, if you read my old DSW blog, you will find that there were many of us who advocated for free breakfast and lunch for ALL students. We also pushed for real, mountain summer camp opportunities for children who would otherwise never experience that kind of growth. Additionally, we pushed very hard for optional types of education – vocational and technical high schools – to help young people get jobs after school that have meaning and a future. Everything fell on deaf ears – for over 8 years. Many of us have long cared about poor and struggling children. Many of us have donated time, energy and materials to help teachers help (and feed) their students. Many of us have volunteered countless hours tutoring and reading to students. I once read to a special education class of 7th graders who had never been read to – not at home and not by a teacher. There are a lot of caring people in DeKalb – it’s just that there is also an enormous amount of need.

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