COFI’s COVID-19 Response Work – Update from May 19, 2020

COFI continues to connect with parents through calls, texts, group chats, and social media to get information and resources out, learn about parents’ challenges and needs, and organize parents to advocate for solutions.

And, COFI-trained parents are making sure their voices are heard! They are pushing school districts and state and local governments to address families’ immediate barriers to accessing remote education. They are advocating for long-term policies to close the digital divide, protect families’ economic security, and address systemic inequities.

A few brief updates:

  • After securing emergency funds to help parents in need, we purchased computers and hotspots for parent leaders and are engaging several parent leaders as COVID-19 Virtual Peer Ambassadors for our new Rapid Response and Support Team. This will enable us to deeply engage even more families in their local communities and school districts.
  • Parents are so excited to find ways to reconnect with one another – even if virtually – that the turnout for our team and branch meetings via Zoom is even higher than our usual in-person meetings.
  • We secured and distributed 55 cash grants to COFI mother-leaders who are facing COVID-19 related hardships – mostly undocumented families who have no access to the stimulus payments.
  • We are collecting parent feedback about a return to school, mental health issues for parents with young children, and support for undocumented families left out of the stimulus packages and parents are sharing that with the Governor’s office and other state and local policymakers.
  • Despite challenges of becoming witnesses in the first-ever virtual Illinois Commerce Commission public hearing, COFI-trained parents testified about the need to reform debt collection around sky-rocketing utility costs.
  • Via Zoom meetings and blog posts, parents are sharing their stories with Illinois legislators in advance of the legislative session this month – particularly asking the State to help families left out in the Federal stimulus packages.