Family resource centers are designed to break isolation, provide safe spaces, and help families seeking connection to succeed. When San Francisco’s Human Services Agency (HSA) needed to distribute Give2SF disaster relief funds to support SF residents hard-hit by the financial and health impacts of COVID-19, they partnered with the First 5 San Francisco Family Resource Center Initiative (FRCs), recognizing the FRC’s connections with families who otherwise might fear seeking government assistance.
The Give2SF COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund ensured that people pushed to the brink by the high cost of living in San Francisco could weather the additional strain placed on their family by the COVID-19 pandemic. Give2SF supported local families in three areas: food security, access to housing, and economic support for workers, families, and small businesses. Funded by big and small donors, Give2SF is a significant, collective commitment by the City administration and City residents to help San Franciscans during the COVID-19 crisis.
One of Give2SF’s focuses was to assist people who otherwise would not have access to federal social safety net programs to gain security for their families’ well-being. Providing San Francisco residents regardless of immigration status with security and support during this challenging period, First 5 San Francisco, along with HSA, the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, the Controller’s Office, and a network of family resource centers distributed COVID-19 disaster relief funds for food support using a vetted system of pre-paid debit cards.
From August to December of 2020, nearly 1,400 pre-loaded debit cards were distributed. In total, $750,000 was provided to residents across the City to bring food and health security to COVID-19 impacted families. To reach those hit hardest by the pandemic, the program first targeted families with infants and families expecting babies. Following the initial outreach’s success, an effort to support a broader population began. The 2nd phase of outreach included any family with children who might be experiencing food insecurity or income loss due to COVID and regardless of immigration status. The cards filled essential gaps for families, especially food and groceries, formula, and other health and well-being needs.
“The cards have provided much-needed help to low-income families impacted by COVID who now struggle with basic needs and rely on cash assistance to help pay for food and other essentials. Good Samaritan families are appreciative of this critical resource, and we applaud First 5’s efforts to support struggling families during these difficult times.”
-Mario Paz, Executive Director, Good Samaritan Family Resource Center
COVID-19 has been incredibly isolating for most of us. For families who have lost their incomes, have few reliable supports, and often live in fear of seeking help, the isolation is more profound and dangerous. The families who received the gift cards have experienced extreme challenges due to COVID-19, with 100 percent sharing that they would frequently experience food instability over the past year.
By distributing pre-loaded debit cards through the Family Resource Centers, families gained access to essential services along with a financial resource needed to provide necessary supplies and food for their well-being. Families were also connected with additional supports like CalFresh and other long term supports.
Family Resource Centers have established deep roots in their neighborhoods and earned positive relationships with families. Because of these trusting connections, families felt free to access essential services and Give2SF financial supports. As families continue to endure the health and financial impacts of COVID, the FRC Initiative is a willing partner to connect families to future relief efforts and supports.