As Newfoundland and Labrador begins to ease restrictions related to COVID-19, Choices for Youth (CFY) is responding with a phased approach to relaxing measures across sites and programs. As always, our focus remains on the safety and well being of our staff and young people, and any adjustments to programs and services are made with a focus on minimizing risk at all times.
Our Senior Leadership team has been paying close attention to the province’s reopening plans and guidelines. While we’re excited to eventually get back to normal, it’s important for CFY to take a cautious and careful approach as an organization to ensure the utmost safety of youth. CFY has developed operational adjustments that will be activated as the province progresses through each Alert Level of its reopening plan.
Phased approach at CFY
As a precautionary safety measure, CFY has implemented a phased approach to easing restrictions across sites and programs. CFY will progress through the different internal phases using a two week lag in comparison to when Gov NL reduces alert levels, and an immediate adjustment if alert level is increased. CFY is currently in Phase B of our approach, which will span part of Alert Level 4 and part of Alert Level 3. CFY will tentatively shift to Phase C two weeks after Gov NL moves to Alert Level 3.
The following measures were implemented in Phase A, and operational changes implemented in Phase B are highlighted in green below:
Changes for all teams and programs at CFY
All teams and sites have taken actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the utmost safety of youth and staff.
Suspend group-based activities; shift to individual supports as necessary.
Suspend hosting events; shift to postponements, cancellations or digital engagement where possible.
Postpone all work-related travel to other regions of the province, outside the province and outside the country.
Suspend all active job competitions; CFY will not be initiating any new job competitions for the time being.
Suspend acceptance of in-kind donations of goods. Financial donations can be made online at www.choicesforyouth.ca/donate.
Suspend volunteer initiatives.
Halt admission of non-essential visitors at all sites (exceptions will be professionals who need to meet with youth, maintenance staff, etc.).
Post information about COVID-19, social distancing and hand-washing at all sites.
Screen all visitors (youth, staff, postal workers, etc.) to any site before providing access. Symptomatic visitors are not given access to CFY sites.
Any staff returning from out of country or out of province for any reason are informing their supervisors right away and self-isolating for 14 days.
Staff with a member of their household returning from out of country or out of province, have been asked to discuss the situation with their supervisor.
Any staff who are either living with or directly caring for individuals at a high risk of succumbing to COVID-19 are asked to inform their supervisors and human resources so that appropriate measures can be taken.
Updated site cleaning guidelines for all teams and sites.
Lanyards with staff IDs and COVID-19 symptom screening information have been provided to all front-line staff.
In most cases, cloth masks remain as a voluntary measure that all staff are welcome to take. As of Monday May 11th, however, there are some situations where CFY is now requiring that cloth masks be used. Those situations are as follows:
Where physical/social distancing cannot be maintained.
Where a site-based decision requires the use of cloth masks due to unique working conditions
When in public spaces for work-related reasons (e.g. supporting a young person in community, grocery shopping, etc.).
When in a vehicle for work with at least one other individual.
Please note the additional measures for specific teams below.
Additional changes for residential and shelter teams
Staff are working with youth residents to monitor for symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including daily screening of youth in residential and shelter programs. In such an event, youth will be asked to self-isolate and staff will support them in completing the online assessment tool or with calling 811.
Staff continue to support residents while practicing social distancing, or by phone, text and email. Food provisions are being made and medication distribution for youth will continue with appropriate safety protocols put in place.
Where possible, on-site staffing levels have been adjusted and new shift rotations are being implemented.
Implementation of daily screening of youth for symptoms associated with COVID-19.
SmartTVs have been installed in Shelter rooms to support compliance with public health measures.
Additional cleaning measures have been implemented and the service contract has been expanded for daily cleaning of sites as of March 25.
Additional changes for the Outreach and Youth Engagement team
As of Tuesday March 17th, meals are being provided during regular drop-in hours as takeaway meals only.
All other youth engagement at Carter’s Hill will be appointment based or crisis response. CFY staff will monitor, in consultation with health officials, access to Carter’s Hill site in a limited fashion (significantly reduced numbers of youth at any given time) for other needs such as support managing addictions, mental health, housing, etc.
All young people seeking services are being screened for symptoms and being supported with completing the online assessment tool or with calling 811 if needed.
Suspended taking in any used drug supplies at our sites. (i.e. SWAP needle exchange). Youth with supplies to dispose of are being directed to community container locations.
In partnership with the Downtown Health Care Collaborative, modified medical services are available to meet urgent needs via The Gathering Place Clinic. Hours are being adjusted daily based on availability of medical professionals, and appointments are being completed by phone wherever possible.
On-site staffing levels have been adjusted and new shift rotations are being implemented.
Additional cleaning measures have been implemented and the service contract has been expanded for daily cleaning of site as of March 25.
Creation of an intermediate Food Services Team (in partnership with the Employment, Education and Social Enterprise team) to oversee and manage all aspects of our changing approach to food procurement, production and distribution efforts. Food Services Team is utilizing expanded safety measures for food preparation, packaging, delivery and post-delivery.
Additional changes for our Family & Natural Supports team
Momma Moments group gatherings and all group-based activities have been suspended. Staff continue to support young mothers and their families by phone,text and email. Delivery of food has started with appropriate safety protocols put in place.
All staff are working from home as much as possible.
The team is also working with the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Services to help coordinate visitations for children in-care and their birth parents.
Additional changes for administration teams and non-essential staff
Staff on these teams are working from home as much as possible. Beyond coming in to work to access specific files or equipment, we have asked staff to limit their time in the office, or to access what they need during off hours if necessary in consultation with supervisors.
Rotation of all senior level staff at CFY sites.
Additional changes to Education, Employment and Social Enterprise teams
Our Neighbourhood store closed as of March 17th and remains closed.
The Shop is reopening with physical distancing by creating self-contained work spaces for trainees. Impact Construction is back to regular operations with physical distancing measures.
All group based activities (e.g. Jumpstart, GED, etc) have been suspended.
Staff continue to support youth trainees by phone, text and email, and are planning to provide food care boxes to all youth trainees.
On-site staffing levels have been adjusted and new shift rotations are being implemented.
Site layout is being reconfigured to allow for youth trainees and staff to use space while physical distancing. Additionally, all deliveries can only enter through the back door and additional hand sanitizer stations are being installed.
Creation of an intermediate Food Services Team (in partnership with the Outreach & Youth Engagement team) to oversee and manage all aspects of our changing approach to food procurement, production and distribution efforts. Food Services Team is utilizing expanded safety measures for food preparation, packaging, delivery and post-delivery.
Supporting youth and our community in other ways
COVID-19 posters and hand washing reminder signs have been distributed to all CFY sites and housing units. We have made our workplace posters on COVID-19 available for use by other employers. Download the workplace poster here. Download the Gov NL hand washing signs here.
Informational post-cards have been created for programs to distribute to young people. These post-cards contain information about COVID-19 and measures youth can take to take to limit their risk. We have made these informational post-cards on COVID-19 available for use by other employers. Download here.
Additional cleaning supplies have been purchased for all sites, and our residential and housing programs have taken steps to ensure they have a 2-week supply of food and relevant medications in case of emergency shutdown or quarantine situation.
Members of CFY's Senior Leadership Team are participating in a Vulnerable Populations Working Group spearheaded by the Department of Health and Community Services.
Members of CFY's Senior Leadership Team are continually seeking advice and coordinating efforts through the Downtown Health Care Collaborative, and across partnering organizations such as the Gathering Place and Stella’s Circle.
CFY is coordinating social media messaging with the Department of Health and Community Services to help reduce misinformation and the rates of transmission.
CFY will continue to follow updates made available by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and encourage you all to stay informed and up-to-date with information by visiting the GovNL COVID-19 site at https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/.
We can all do our part by staying informed, remaining calm, and working together to limit the spread of this virus.
Please stay safe, follow social distancing practices and look out for your neighbours, family members and colleagues. The safety of our staff and the young people we serve, remains our priority during these challenging times.