Hello Five Acres Community,
Since the start of this pandemic, 285 days ago, much of my time has been focused on keeping our children safe and healthy, keeping our staff safe and healthy, and keeping the agency financially sound during these challenging times. As 2020 comes to an end, I want to share that Five Acres is still here! Despite this pandemic, murder hornets, fires, and economic instability, we are still kicking, and we continue to do what we are committed to doing.
While we have faced many obstacles to providing services this year, we did not have a day of pause in our services, even if it meant converting and training over 100 team members to offer telemedicine in less than five days. Our Prevention Division has served more clients this year than pre-COVID. In the past nine months, we have already impacted 6,811 clients, which signifies the community’s growing needs due to COVID. We have provided these services without disruption and today offer our services safely in-person, via telemedicine, or as a combo of the two.
Our Intervention Division, where foster children live in our care until we can find them a safe and forever family, has been our most incredible opportunity this year. Caring for children without families in a congregate care setting and our foster care setting while in a pandemic is something I will remember as one of our most defining moments. Court closures that halted the movement of foster children… Education closures leaving us with the responsibilities of the education of special needs children… Supply and food procurement to keep children and staff safe, particularly early on when supplies were hard to come by as shelves emptied rapidly.
As a leader during this pandemic, we know that we are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the children we serve and the teams we employ. As county resources became maxed and overwhelmed, realizing that we were on our own was the turning moment. When we decided to move forward versus hope and wait for a “Hail Mary,” that decision led to my team’s incredible leadership and creativity. We found a solution in the supply procurement of proper PPEs for our team members who continued to work in person. We created and operated our own in-house Isolation Units for COVID-positive clients because hospitals would not admit them, and we did not want to risk mixing COVID-positive children with the other children. We figured out how to provide onsite COVID testing for over 200 team members weekly and procure testing kits to test any child as needed through our nursing department. We are managing and monitoring COVID spread and infection while keeping our agency positivity rate below 3%, even during county spikes. With so many obstacles to overcome, the surprises we faced, and many options to fail, we have not.
While in this pandemic, we have impacted over 6,800 individuals across six counties, with 359 infants, toddlers, and teens that lived in our care safely during COVID. While we have been surprised by many unfamiliar challenges, we have continued to be creative to maintain an 81% permanency rate for the children we serve. Finally, we remain over 400 team members strong, with a turnover of 10.7%, and continue to work daily to stay financially viable to keep as many team members employed during these economically unstable times.
While we miss gathering in the community and celebrating with you at our annual gala, golf, and community events, we thank you for continuing to support us and allowing us to redirect our attention to the safety and health of the children and our team. Five Acres is here, and even more proud of what we have accomplished so far during these extraordinary times. We look forward to less extraordinary times in 2021 and hope to see you soon!
Chanel W. Boutakidis, MA, MFT
Chief Executive Officer