Out of a cancer diagnosis came a Dallas charity committed to providing free childcare for families battling a health crisis. Now, their services are needed more than ever and they’re finding new ways to help those most vulnerable as North Texas deals with COVID-19.
When a health crisis hits, Natalie Boyle acts.
After battling cancer while raising twin 18-months-old, Boyle started a non-profit called Mommies In Need. The organization provides free in-home childcare to families dealing with a life-altering diagnosis.
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“Those times are so stressful,” Boyle said during a 2019 interview. “They’re financially stressful, they’re emotionally stressful and we just come in and provide a little bit of relief to those families.”
Now she’s furthering that mission, even while she and her team of childcare specialists remain at home, pivoting Mommies In Need to providing free virtual childcare.
“We’re there to try and meet just every need possible,” Boyle said.
When the coronavirus crisis hit North Texas a month ago, Boyle realized it was no longer safe for her immunocompromised clients to have nannies coming into their homes, nor was it safe for her employees.
To keep her team employed, and their services for families going, they developed a virtual curriculum that her staff can use to engage preschool-aged children and give parents at home a break to rest and recover, whether that’s from cancer or COVID-19.
“We’re really aiming at sick parents,” Boyle said. “What is the easiest thing [kids] can do, so [parents] can be resting? As long as there is an adult in the house, we asked ourselves ‘How can we take the burden off of childcare for very young kids?’”
Employee Amber Smith said it is tough not being in the same room as the kids and loving on them, but by providing specialized curriculum, one-on-one attention and group sessions with other children, she can keep little ones engaged for up to three hours.
“I’ve had tea parties with some kids,” Smith said. “I’ve had dance parties with some kids and it’s just been fun to get them up and get them moving. I can do it on my side of the screen and it’s almost like I’m with them.”
The free virtual care is available for anyone with preschool-aged kids facing a health crisis or a hospital worker or first responder on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19. Mommies In Need will even provide a tablet and educational toys and materials for those families facing financial difficulties and can offer English or Spanish speaking nannies.
“It’s hard enough on everyone right now and if you’re sick on top of that how much harder that would be,” Boyle said. “We’re very grateful that we’ve been able to figure out a way to help in this unique situation that we’re all in right now.”
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