This year has been one full of challenges and changes and Little City continues to change with it. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to alter daily life, Little City has been working hard to deliver services and supports in innovative ways while constantly seeking ways to re-open programs and buildings.

Little City started that re-opening process as early as August, successfully welcoming back 36 students to the ChildBridge Center for Education. Since then, the school has been able to operate without interruption to in-person learning. And more Little City programs have been following suit.

The Lakeside Center opened in late summer, initially bringing back about 10 people to resume vocational skill development and deliver much needed social, emotional and mental engagement to seniors. Countryside and the Center for Employment & Business Opportunities followed a couple weeks later, welcoming back roughly 15 people, including the Employee Development Services program.

The path to opening all those buildings was meticulous and thorough. Staff reviewed participants and had to determine which ones would be able to adhere to the mask and social distancing guidelines. Rooms were re-organized to meet distancing requirements and everything from hand sanitizer stations to floor markings were installed to keep people safe and separate.

As people continue to adjust to the new routines and setup, programs will begin to allow more people back for in-person services within the restrictions of CDC recommendations. While Little City has enjoyed a successful, deliberate re-opening, the program that has faced the most difficult challenges throughout the pandemic has been residential services. When shelter-in-place orders first were implemented in March, families had the difficult choice of
bringing their loved one homes where it could become incredibly challenging to receive vital support or have them stay at Little City and endure an indefinite period of separation.

“There have been countless heroes during this pandemic, but I think the heroes we don’t talk about enough are our families,” said Shawn Jeffers, Little City Executive Director. “The trust they have put in us to care for their loved ones is simply incredible. The patience they have shown, knowing the safest option requires this long period of separation, is amazing and a sacrifice many people could not make. We owe them so much for our success in keeping people safe and healthy.”

The residential program has displayed innovating thinking at every turn. From Zoom meetings with family, to social events like birthday parties and games where homes can connect with each other to virtually reunite friends, staff have worked hard to combat isolation. Over the summer, the children’s residential program was able to stage outside meeting areas for families to reunite with their loved ones. And as guidelines allow, Little City looks to ease
as many restrictions as possible to allow families to be together while still having the ability to use residential services.

Whether it has been bringing art into the homes, e-learning over the summer or working with employers to get community-based employees with developmental disabilities back to work, Little City has been bridging the gap during Covid-19. And as the future continues to change, the mission to create hope, change lives and challenge all limits will continue on at Little City.