Posted: June 26, 2020
By: Anne Korfas, Prevent Child Abuse NC Philanthropy Associate

Stacey Cunningham

Stacey Cunningham

As we continue to navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19, providing support to our partner agencies and the families they work with remains a main priority. Stacey Cunningham, Prevention Programs Specialist, supports eight agencies implementing Circle of Parents in central and eastern North Carolina.

The purpose of Circle of Parents is to provide a place where parents can connect with and learn from each other while building the protective factors that reduce the risk of abuse and neglect. As with all the parenting programs that Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) supports, COVID-19 has introduced new challenges to implementing Circle of Parents, which was designed to be hosted in person.

Nearly all the agencies Stacey works with shifted quickly and are providing virtual support to families, with the goal of staying connected to families during this time of need. Stacey often serves as a sounding board to assist with brainstorming and problem solving. Agencies are finding new and different ways to engage with families, including:

  • dropping off food/diaper/supply boxes
  • delivering craft/prop boxes for children
  • writing interactive posts and sharing resources via social media
  • offering drive-thru food
  • conducting 1:1 calls and hosting virtual group meetings

Families, dealing with more stress than ever, have welcomed these concrete supports and virtual support groups; however, many families and agencies are eager to resume face-to-face group meetings.

Though it is not yet clear whether agencies will offer virtual Circle of Parents support groups or transition back to in-person groups this summer, Stacey is committed to helping agencies identify next steps forward. The stress of COVID-19 is far-reaching, and self-care is an important conversation topic that continues to emerge between Stacey and the agencies. Stacey listens for challenges, needs, and opportunities to celebrate, as well as provides encouragement, praise, and reassurance.

When asked what she is most proud of working with agencies to guide them through this unprecedented time, Stacey replied,

“It is my pleasure to continue working with agencies to think through their processes and challenges when it comes to connecting with families virtually. I try my best to be a calm presence, offering validation and reassurance.”

We are grateful for Stacey and the entire Prevention Programs Team, whose commitment to providing high quality parenting program support during this difficult time remains unwavering.