Starting on March 16, in response to the COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing, CareerCatchers made the decision to provide all services remotely. As an organization we have always offered to help clients via email and phone when it was not possible for them to come to our offices or meet in a public space. This is because the vulnerable populations we serve often have issues with childcare, transportation, odd work schedules that make it difficult for them to come to us (or meet at a library, for example). And nearly all of our clients have cell phones. As a result of these factors we have always offered to help people remotely. We were seamlessly able to make this transition to 100% remote work. Clients with difficulties getting to our office are thrilled and those who might prefer in-person sessions are willing to try this given the health risks of meeting in person. So far we have been able to provide all the services we typically provide: starting with new clients, creating and updating resumes, identifying and applying for jobs, conducting mock interviews, helping clients negotiating new job salaries and filling out new hire paperwork, and coaching people on how to maintain employment or finding productive ways to spend increased time at home.

In addition to reaching out to clients via phone, email, and text apps we have also started three other initiatives:

1. Through our various contacts and sources we identify employers who are currently hiring and periodically (every few days) send a mass email to all clients with that information. We also have a special page on our website, on Facebook and LinkedIn with the same information. While COVID-19 shut downs have resulted in many layoffs there are also opportunities for jobs created to deal with the increased demand for delivery of goods, for health care providers, and for remote-ready workers. We also let clients know that we can help them complete applications via phone and email.

2. This is a great time for clients who have computers and internet access at home to consider improving their workplace skills. Realizing that many clients will need help accessing the free online classes that we have identified, we have a whole list of volunteers who will help clients remotely start training classes.

3. Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline was interviewed on the PBS News Hour and she noted that “.. in past times of stress, like 9/11, the economic downturn of 2008 and Hurricane Katrina, experts say that the intensity and frequency of domestic abuse [goes] up…What we [also] know is that oftentimes abusive partners will leverage something happening in society as a further means to isolate, create fear, intimidate or coerce a victim.” Since CareerCatchers serves a large number of DV victims (30% or more of our total client base) we plan to increase our outreach to this group in particular. We hope that by reaching out more by phone and email we can reduce the impact of their increased feeling of isolation and hopelessness. And clients have told us they appreciate this effort.

We look forward to continuing to serve you during this time.