Marian Wright EdelmanOp-EdOpinion

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: Help Through Our Shared Crisis

As our nation and world enter the full terrors of the COVID-19 crisis, the Children’s Defense Fund has been taking special steps to ensure that our most vulnerable children and their families are protected. We urged and applauded the swift passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes critical provisions for children and families like access to coronavirus testing and expanded food assistance, unemployment benefits and paid sick leave. And we are pushing for children to be a priority in the next relief package, which must include supports for families facing financial crisis and homelessness, children in the child welfare system and much more. Congress must put people before politics and act now to help children.

We will also continue to share resources from experts on how the coronavirus impacts children, how to talk to children about the outbreak and more. For example:

• American Academy of Pediatrics has information on the COVID-19 pandemic, including symptoms, how to protect your family, how to prepare for school or child care closings and talking to children. The AAP also has information on handwashing.
• Our partners at Generations United have created a fact sheet for grandfamilies and multigenerational families to stay healthy, informed and connected.
• The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) has compiled a list of resources​ related to ensuring that children who are out of school can still access meals. They are also sharing an action and advocacy tool for maximizing the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) role in supporting health, food security and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• The US Department of Labor has a portal to provide information about applying for unemployment benefits in your state.
• The Juvenile Law Center, The Hope Center and School House Connection published a fact sheet on supporting students who are homeless or in foster care.
• UNICEF has tips for how to talk to your children about the COVID-19 pandemic.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sharing guidance on managing mental health and coping during COVID-19 for children and caregivers.
• We’ve put together a roundup of free digital education tools that may be of interest to caregivers (non-educators) who are looking for engaging and enriching content to share with their children while at home, ranging from great videos to digital explorations, games and even full textbooks.

And I and millions of others — and you if you are a person of faith — should continue to pray. So I share a few prayers here for a quick end to this scourge:

God, make our hearts bigger
our love deeper
our faith stronger
our hope unwavering
our strength greater
our efforts unceasing
our voices unflinching
our vision and actions Yours.

**

I have turned to Thomas Merton’s wonderful prayer “The Road Ahead” again and again in many different situations as I’ve asked for guidance:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

**

God, help us to do what we have to do each day, and leave tomorrow to You.

**

I end with “A Prayer for Our Time” by Rev. Frederick J. Streets, the senior pastor of Dixwell Congregational Church in New Haven and former Yale Chaplain. He is a licensed clinical social worker and the anchor and co-chaplain-in-residence at CDF’s annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry

Spirit of All Creation:

May our faith in you and one another guide us as we cannot yet see our way through this time of crisis.

May our hope in you and the goodness of our neighbors strengthen us as we endure our discomforts and fears.

Give comfort to all who are emotionally, physically and spiritually distressed.

Bless our health care providers and all who are taking care of those who are ill.

Grant wisdom and discernment to those who are researching and searching for medicines to combat our diseases, the coronavirus and other illnesses.

Help us to reassure and comfort our children and protect them from harm and danger.

Grant, O God, those who lead our governments, institutions, hospitals, our schools and local organizations, safety and emergency services and us, wisdom beyond our own wisdom to contain the coronavirus; faith beyond our own faith to help us to fight our fears and strength beyond our own strength to be resilient and sustain all of our vital institutions through this time of turmoil.

Although we are physically separated from one another help us, Eternal One, to maintain our social connection to one another by our creatively and ethically using social media.

Help each of us to know that there is something in us stronger than fear. Birth in us a new sense of hope that will help us to rise above the clouds of despair.

Grant, Eternal Love that we emerge from this time of crisis a more loving people who are more committed to the welfare of all and the earth that sustains us. Amen.

Edelman is founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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