Due to the continued risk of transmission and infection of COVID-19, all shelters are encouraged to reserve available beds for youth who are homeless or at serious risk in their current situation. Capacity is to be evaluated by current CDC guidelines for maintaining safe social distance in sleeping quarters and common areas.
At this time, reduction is still the best choice. We serve only truly critical youth and those who do not have a safe place to stay. We must limit the potential for contagion and illness among youth and staff by reducing census to allow for ample space between all persons in the milieu.
Youth who have a safe exit option, supported by licensed clinical oversight, should be discharged to reduce risk of contamination and supervisory burden on direct care staff. We will contact the court for all court ordered youth prior to discharge. If we need assistance communicating with the courts about court-ordered youth, please contact DJJ legal, or the Florida Network to facilitate that request.
Visitors and vendors should not be allowed to enter the facility unless their visit is deemed to be essential. Alternative electronic measures should be taken to allow youth to maintain family contact. Only essential visits are allowed on the property at this time– Visitors must remain outside and observe Covid-19 precautions while on site (physical distancing and masks). At no point, are nonessential visitors allowed into the shelter.
All facilities will maintain a single point of entry and exit into the residential environment to maintain strict control over sanitizing procedures to control for traffic and isolation of potentially harmful germs. Before any family completes an intake for services the intake/waiting area should be sanitized thoroughly. Any items that are not needed should not be allowed in the intake/waiting area (cell phones, tablets, extra luggage, drinks etc.). After the intake is complete, all areas in the intake/ waiting room should be sanitized. This should also occur after any visitor, vendor or delivery person has left the facility.
Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services, Inc. remains deeply committed to protecting our employees, youth, and the community at large. Earlier we made the socially responsible decision to allow our office staff to work remotely and have modified our intake and housing processes for our direct care staff until further notice. While this time frame is contingent on updates from government officials, Miami Bridge has implemented its “working remote” and COVID-19 protocol procedures and schedules.
Since the first case of COVID-19 in the United States, with cases now reaching 1 million, Miami Bridge’s executive leadership team has continually met to update and educate staff and youth. The leadership team has also been proactively planning innovative “client experience” approaches to offset the effects of social distancing.
True to our mission, our shelters remain open to serve the runaway and displaced youth of this community. With the increase of domestic violence due to current stay-at-home orders, our nonresidential counselors continue to provide counseling and other resources to families in need. In addition, our agency recently worked with community partners to donate food and furniture to several families because caretakers were furloughed from their jobs.
We will continue our critical work—but we need your help. Our having to postpone our annual signature fundraisers, while at the same time providing hazardous pay to our workers, could adversely affect our ability to assist youth in need. Please keep Miami Bridge in mind as we work together during this uncertain time and share our experiences.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Dr. Dorcas L. Wilcox, LCSW, CEO of Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services, Inc.