Four Core Considerations for Human Services Organizations During COVID-19

There’s an overwhelming amount of information pouring in every day with the latest updates on COVID-19, the pandemic, and the state of the world. It’s exhausting at best, and could be harmful at worst. The purpose of this blog is to cut through some of the noise and zero in on four primary (and ongoing) considerations that human services organizations need to focus on.

1. Legal & Regulatory Considerations

By now, you are likely at least somewhat familiar with FFCRA and the CARES Act, some of the most recent legislation that may impact your organization. In particular, the FFCRA requires certain organizations to provide paid leave for employees with or caring for a family member with COVID-19. This leave is immediately reimbursed by the government, and you can view the full FFCRA regulations here.

The CARES Act provides various types of economic assistance for individuals, small businesses, and local governments. This includes the Paycheck Protection Program, tax provisions, and other forms of debt relief for businesses, including nonprofits and other human services agencies. Both the CARES Act and FFCRA can have a significant impact on your human service agency, and understanding these regulatory requirements and the financial assistance available is essential.

2. Public Health and Safety Considerations

We all know to wash our hands regularly, avoid touching our faces, and practice social distancing while in public. From an organizational perspective though, we need to think more broadly and proactively. Human services agencies are classified as essential businesses, so it’s likely your organization continued to operate even as the world around you began to shut down.

Now, as other businesses slowly start to reopen, protecting your frontline employees as well as the people you serve in our communities needs to be prioritized more than ever. This may involve continuing to modify how you operate and provide services (ie, providing remote services via telehealth). And it may also involve increasing safety through PPE and other measures for those still on the front lines. To help you create a comprehensive safety strategy for your organization, you can review guidance from the CDC for communities, schools, and workplaces.

3. Mental Health Considerations

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the pandemic has highlighted the importance of making this a priority. Social distancing measures and drastic changes in work, retail, and our day-to-day lives in general have created a lot of stressors that can take a toll on our mental health. From both a personal perspective and an organizational perspective, promoting mental health through self-care methods and professional services is beneficial. You can start to explore some helpful mental health strategies for yourself and your team in our recent blog, Promoting Mental Health in Stressful Times.

4. Financial Sustainability Considerations

Last but not least, we need to keep an eye to the future. While it may seem like there’s no end in sight, there will be a future after the pandemic. Preparing your organization now for what’s to come and the lasting changes that we’ll likely see post-pandemic will only help your organization continue to move forward.

You can start to implement strategies and policies now that will help ensure your organization’s financial sustainability. This includes measuring operational efficiency and collecting enough data to understand how efficiently your programs, departments, and other organizational levels are performing. Proactively identifying and addressing inefficiencies and allocating resources strategically will help your organization justify costs while making the most of every dollar. Recently, we held a Financial Sustainability webinar featuring CFOs from two human services agencies, tapping into their insights and expertise to learn about the financial strategies they’re implementing at their organizations. You can watch a recording of our CFO panel webinar on-demand.

Looking Ahead

These four considerations are essential for all human services organizations that want to safeguard for the future. They touch on broader concerns about organizational sustainability as well as individual concerns regarding the employees that make up your workforce. More importantly though, these are longer-term considerations that won’t disappear in a week or a month. And they’re well worthwhile for organizations to focus on as they move forward with an eye to the future.

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