Two incomes are needed to meet the monthly expenses in Candace R.'s Delhi Township household of eight, which includes six children (three others are grown and live outside the home). But when the 35-year-old preschool director got sick with COVID-19 in November and her wife had to quarantine, neither was able to work. During that stressful time, the family was grateful food was provided and bills were paid with the help of United Way of Greater Cincinnati's CARES Coordination Program.
“This was the first time we needed so much help all at the same time,” Candace said.
The CARES Coordination Program, which runs through Dec. 30, assists COVID-19 parents in Hamilton County with a variety of urgent needs. Hamilton County commissioners designated $1 million for the program and entrusted United Way to develop it because of its relationship with 140 partner agencies. Money for the program comes from CARES Act funding the county received from the federal government.
Once Candace reported her diagnosis to the Cincinnati Health Department, a worker there asked whether the family needed assistance. Then a series of actions quickly unfolded, starting with a call from United Way and the delivery of a health kit packed with information and supplies to help the family quarantine safely. Candace then heard from a United Way care coordinator, who arranged for meal kits to be delivered. The care coordinator also asked whether the family needed help with bills.
The CARES Coordination Program connects people to a network of agencies that provide services such as eviction preventive; electric and power shutoff prevention; employment support; mental health support; and rent, mortgage and water bill assistance.
“It was amazing to have (the care coordinator) just call us,” Candace said. “She took care of everything for us. She called the water company and our landlord and coordinated all those things. I was supposed to take care of that, but I was sick. It was really helpful not to have to (do that) ourselves. And to take that stress and worry from us was amazing.”
The family’s two income earners missed three weeks of work. “To have this happen right before Christmas could really have just devastated our family,” Candace said. “We were just really grateful that we were still able to pay the bills and be able to do something for Christmas. We are very appreciative for all the help.”