fbpx Skip to main content

Resources for our Bigs, Littles & Families during COVID-19

By March 18, 2020September 27th, 2021In The News, Match Events
Person Washing Hands

Posted March 18, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Updated September 21, 2021 at 5:30 pm

Para leer en español, haga clic aquí

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay strongly encourages volunteers, parents, and youth who are eligible to get vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus to do so at your earliest convenience, if you have not done so already.   These vaccinations are free of charge and now readily available at many Publix, CVS, and Walgreen pharmacies, among other locations.

While this is a personal decision that each of you must make, I want to remind you that getting vaccinated is not just for your own safety, but also for the safety of all that we serve as well as the safety of our agency staff and overall community. While many of our Bigs and Littles have found creative ways to meet virtually and spend time together to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we also recognize the many mental health and other positive benefits of in-person meetings when done safely.  Having in-person meetings is a personal and important decision between each Big, Little, and the parent/legal guardian of the Little. While there is never any guarantee that you will not be infected with the virus every time you step out of your home, as we all know there are reasonable precautions, we can take that will reduce that risk.  Accordingly, when a Big/Little match make this decision to meet in person, here are the steps you (and everyone) are responsible for following:

  • Always Follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines.
    • Your activities can take place outside or at a location following CDC guidelines.
    • You must refrain from physical contact (no hugging, high fives, etc.).
    • You must wash your hands often or use a hand sanitizer if you are unable to wash your hands.
    • You must avoid touching your face.
    • You must wear a mask when meeting unless you are at least 6 feet apart from one another; Big Brothers Big Sisters have masks available for you.
    • You must stay 6 feet or more apart from one another when possible, and
    • If either of you are in a high-risk group for the COVID-19 virus (e.g., either of you have underlying health issues), you should continue to only meet virtually until this pandemic is behind us.
  • Only the Big & Little Can Participate. The activity is to include only the Big and Little (i.e., no friends or other family members).
  • Transporting Littles. Bigs transporting their Little need to maintain as much distance as possible in the vehicle (i.e., all Littles, regardless of age should sit in the backseat of the vehicle and wear a mask). As an alternative, the Big can drive to the Little’s home and go for a walk, play in the yard, bring lunch and have a picnic at a neighborhood park, or the Little’s family may provide transportation to and from an activity if the activity is being held in a public setting;
  • COVID-19 Symptoms. If you have met in person and develop any symptoms such as a fever (even low-grade) or a member of either of your households do, please report this to your Match Support Specialist as soon as possible and discontinue any further outings. If you have been exposed to someone who tests positive for the virus, do not meet for at least two to three weeks.
  • No Requirement to Meet In-Person. Just to be clear, we are NOT requiring matches to meet in-person. Meeting virtually is always an option.

Thank you so much for being such a vital part of Big Brothers Big Sisters and our important mission. If you have any questions, we are here for you! Please reach out to us via your Match Support Specialist here at our agency.  Please stay safe and healthy…. we need you!

Very truly yours,

Stephen A. Koch

President & CEO


Staying Connected

Prepare a plan with your Little so you can still stay in touch using FaceTime, Zoom or similar online tools. The FaceTime App is most likely already on your iPhone. Remember that your Littles will have to download/install whatever tool you choose, as well. You can also consider Google Duo and WhatsApp. Schedule time to see your Little just like you would an in-person visit and plan what you will be doing in advance with their parent or guardian. Please discuss all this with your Match Support Specialist if you have questions or problems. We have also created a YouTube playlist with videos on how to use the tools below.

There are many great ways to stay in touch with your Little virtually:

Additional Resources for Staying Connected


YMCA Suncoast and Tampa Metropolitan YMCA locations will be closed effective Tuesday, March 17th at 9 pm through Sunday, March 29th.

School Closures: As of March 17, 2020, the Florida Department of Education announced that all public and private K-12 schools will be closed through April 15, 2020. All end-of-year testing has been canceled. Parents, below are some educational resources and activities that you may find beneficial to keep your child engaged and throughout the extended break from school.


Educational Resources

Best Practices to Limit Exposure and the Spread of Coronavirus

Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus

Food Pantries & Meals for Kids

Local Agencies & Updates

Additional Resources

  • Free Access to Spectrum Broadband: Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households
  • Lakeland Electric, Duke Energy, and TECO will not disconnect power for nonpayment amid coronavirus pandemic: Duke Energy announced on Friday it would no longer disconnect customers’ power over nonpayment during the coronavirus pandemic. Lakeland Electric is suspending service disconnections for non-payment until further notice. Tampa Electric announced on Sunday that they will not disconnect customer’s power for nonpayments at least until the end of March.
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline: The Disaster Distress Helpline answers calls and texts related to infectious dis-ease outbreaks. Call or text to connect with a trained counselor 24/7. Call 1-800-985-5990. Spanish-speakers can call the hotline and press “2” for 24/7 bilingual support
  • Department of Workforce Solutions
  • Tampa Metropolitan YMCA Childcare Relief: The YMCAs of Tampa Bay are offering all-day youth relief care for essential workers at 23 Y locations to help support the children of healthcare and emergency response professionals who are playing important roles combating the coronavirus.
  • State of Florida Employ Florida Reemployment Benefits Guides in English and Spanish
  • Florida Department of Children and Families ACCESS Florida COVID-19 Updates
  • Tampa Bay Times: Florida’s unemployment benefits: We answer your questions
  • Free Laundry Services in Tampa
  • Internet Essentials Free Internet from Comcast FAQ
  • Parents Ultimate Guides: Struggling to keep up with the media and tech your kids are using? Common Sense’s Parents’ Ultimate Guides can help keep you up to date and answer your questions about all the latest titles and trends. Whether you’re trying to figure out if a new app is safe for your teen or if a popular game includes blood and gore, we’ve got you covered. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, let us know!
  • Hillsborough County Public Library Reemployment Assistance Drive-Thru Help
  • Sex, Lies & Media Training for Adults from Selah Freedom: ​​Sex, Lies & Media Training helps interveners (parents, teachers, youth workers, etc.) learn about how predators and recruiters can approach innocent youth online through social media. It educates adults on the red flags to look out for, how a predator can manipulate and exploit a child, and how to protect the next generation from this crime. Gain practical tools to keep your kids safe online and learn how to facilitate conversations about this issue with them. 1 out of 9 children are approached by a predator online. With kids online more than ever before due to COVID-19, it is vital that parents are educated and empowered to protect them. This is a FREE virtual training on Thursday, April 23rd at 5:30pm. Once you have registered, a link will be emailed to you to attend this training.
  • The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County has released their 2020 Family Guide for Services in Hillsborough County in English and Spanish
  • Free Tax Prep Assistance: Due to the coronavirus, Hillsborough County Extension is not able to provide in-person tax prep assistance. We are offering free tax prep assistance for Hillsborough County residents who can connect via web meeting. We will do our best to offer as much one-on-one assistance as possible. Since demand may exceed our capacity, we are also offering free access to this tax prep software. Appointments for one-on-one assistance are required and may be made for the following times: Tues – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00pm – 4:00pm. Appointments must be made in advance. For more information, contact Denise Kantak, 813-744-5519 ext. 54141 or Kantakd@HCFLGov.net
  • Good Digital Parenting ResourcesThe Family Online Safety Institute’s Good Digital Parenting resources provide parents and caregivers with the tools they need to confidently navigate the online world with their families.
  • Connect Safely Quick Guides for Internet Safely
  • Create A Family Technology Plan:  Families can create a family technology plan together by answering where they will use screens, when they will be used, for how long, and for what purpose
  • BayCare Behavioral Health Parent Conversation Hour: Parenting can be challenging and at times overwhelming. COVID-19 poses its own set of challenges for parents: having to adapt to new roles as parent and teacher, creating new routines, and finding ways to keep family and friends connected. This group creates a platform for parents to be able to discuss challenges, create solutions, and develop skills to empower them as parents and create change within their families. Virtual meetings Monday 9-10 am and Thursday 3-4 pm. Space is limited, please pre-register
  • How to Balance Children’s Screen Time During the Pandemic
  • Understanding Screen Addiction and Responsible Digital Use

Coping with Stress

We know the existing relationships of our Bigs and Littles are important to keep intact, especially during stressful times. The World Health Organization has some helpful guidance on how to cope with stress and help children cope too.

Dealing with Grief

Self-Care Tips for Children & Adults

We understand that this is a very stressful time for a lot of us. Stress can have a significant impact on work and school performance, your physical and mental health, as well as your relationships with others. It is important to manage stress in healthy ways. Below are some ways that can help you to cope with stress.

  • Go for a walk
  • Gardening
  • Read a book
  • Do some yoga
  • Cook a new dish
  • Burn a scented candle
  • Cuddle with a pet
  • Meditate
  • Write in a journal
  • Watch a movie
  • Pray
  • Drive to a new place
  • Make a list
  • Clean out a junk drawer or closet
  • Call a friend on the phone
  • Take a deep breath
  • Draw a picture
  • Watch your favorite movie
  • Write down some goals
  • Exercise
  • Write a letter
  • Learn a new skill

Support for LGBTQ+ Youth: In this time of uncertainty many LGBTQ+ youth, who likely already feel isolated, might be feeling even more detached by the social distancing mandates in your area. Support can be accessed by phone, chat & text and additional resources are available online


Things to do at home

Things to do with your kids while social distancing for coronavirus:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay has launched our Lunchtime Stories with BBBS Tampa Bay! Tune in to our Facebook page each weekday at 12:30pm as our staff reads a few chapters from a book each day
  • Florida Aquarium SEA-SPAN: The Tampa attraction is hosting a daily Facebook Live while it is closed due to coronavirus. It will be broadcast at 10 a.m. each day to keep you up to date on happenings at the aquarium. On March 17, you can watch to see the lemurs celebrate
  • Tour through famous museums: Sure you can’t leave your house but don’t let that stop you from enjoying all our world has to offer. Travel and Leisure put together a list of museums that offer virtual tours
  • Learning at home: There are tons of websites for educational activities for kids. We found this Facebook post detailing a bunch of websites you could try
  • Get on a schedule: Maybe that doesn’t sound like the greatest plan but it can be really helpful for kids. BusyToddler.com came up with a schedule that can help you plan your days. This is also an example of a daily schedule for kids who are home during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 30-day LEGO challenge: We found this one that could be fun! Take the 30 day LEGO challenge and make something new every day
  • Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems: Mo Willems invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLES. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day for the next few weeks. Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons and join Mo to explore ways of writing and making together. New episodes will be posted each weekday at 1:00 p.m. ET and then remain online to be streamed afterward. Check back each weekday for new LUNCH DOODLES!
  • Coronavirus Sanity Guide: Meditations, podcasts, blog posts, and talks to help build resilience and find some calm amidst the chaos
  • Clearwater Library: Access eBooks, digital comic books, audiobooks, magazines, and more with your Clearwater Library card
  • Polk County Library: Polk County residents can register for a library card over the phone. Check here for a list of numbers to call. Although libraries are currently closed, bibliophiles can utilize hoopla – a free digital streaming service to access eBooks, eAudiobooks, music, movies, + TV shows using your own electronic device
  • Google Arts & Culture’s collection of museums: There are thousands of museum Street Views on Google as well
  • Google Arts & Culture’s collection of historic and cultural heritage sites
  • Google Arts & Culture’s collection of national parks
  • Nightly Met Opera Streams: During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark. Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of the opera’s greatest singers. The performances are being made available through the Met Opera on Demand streaming service, and are also accessible through Met Opera on Demand apps on all of your favorite devices.
  • Stay-at-Home Care Package by Big Life Journal: ideas for indoor and outdoor activities for kids and teens
  • The Cincinnati Zoo: The Cincinnati Zoo hosts animal features on their YouTube page that are fun and educational!
  • Audible Stories: Free stories for kids of all ages while they are out of school
  • Raymond’s Activities for Kids from the Tampa Bay Rays that includes coloring pages and activity pages
  • Disney has shared the official Dole Whip recipe so you can satiate your sweet tooth
  • 10+ Ideas to Celebrate a Birthday at Home during Social Distancing
  • Kids can design their own Disney park online with ‘Imagineering in a Box’
  • Free Digital Cooking Classes For Kids Every Week Day with DELISH
  • The James Museum from Home: Connect with us through weekly curated content based on our collection. Explore art, movies, books, music, children’s activities and more. Each week the content is freshly considered and developed by our curatorial and education teams. We invite you to discover a new way to experience the museum and learn more about our collection.
  • Girl Scouts at Home: Bring the exploration, fun and learning of Girl Scouts to your family even when circumstances are keeping Girl Scouts from meeting up in person. Afterall, Girl Scouts isn’t somewhere girls go or something they do—it’s who they are day in, day out. Use these self-guided, free activities to keep your girl, your troop, and your community connected.

Author bbbs

More posts by bbbs
Skip to content
Branded by Stevie & Fern