The impact of COVID-19 on families, communities and counties has been relentless, not just in California but around the world. How those communities respond, whether by adhering to physical distancing and stay-at-home measures or if deemed essential in the workplace, is critical to move to a recovery phase. California Child Support Services and the county and regional child support offices are working hard to assist families by providing services and guidance during these unique circumstances.
While working conditions have been altered drastically over the past few months, the importance of being on the frontline of operations remains paramount. Four San Diego County Department of Child Support Services personnel – Susan Marquez, Angelica Hoyo, Jubilee Fejaran and Brisa Garcia – never hesitated when asked to lend a helping hand in their community. All four volunteered their time and skills to the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to tackle tough questions and solve difficult problems arising from COVID-19.
Said Hoyo, of San Diego County: “It is a scary time worldwide, and the fact I was blessed with the opportunity to help battle this crisis is an opportunity I would never turn down.”
Depending on assignment in the San Diego County’s EOC, emergency work can take different forms. Fejaran spends most days monitoring an inbox for questions that require extensive research, to interpret the law and provide answers to departments, while Garcia is a Placement Specialist that works to find temporary lodging for people suspected to have COVID-19.
“I contact each guest every morning to see how they are feeling and assist them by answering their questions and taking requests,” Garcia detailed. “I am the main point of contact for guests and I’m responsible to help them meet their basic needs.”
New teams and projects regularly prompt different requests, and the variety of tasks constantly change to meet new challenges. While emergency work is different from the norm, working with child support gives employees key experiences that contribute to assisting in the EOC. As Marquez noted, “Child Support…creates a lot of leaders.”
Similar requests and volunteer work are spreading generosity statewide, including a wide range of charitable donations from employees at California Child Support Services. In Tulare County, Wendy Schilling sewed masks with families and friends and offered them to veterans, co-workers and families. Schilling, who has worked the past 19 years at the Tulare County Department of Child Support Services, created a well-organized assembly line with her fiancé and future mother-in-law to expedite the process. Her mother-in-law is now creating similar masks in her home state of Illinois. In another act of kindness, Yolo County Supervising Child Support Officer Jaime Wisterman volunteered at the local food bank to assist her community in need.
Regardless of experience, background or regular job duties, all volunteers are unified by a purpose. The ability to make a positive impact on their community outweighed any doubt of bonding together in response to the pandemic.
To track child support response, follow COVID-19 updates here.