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COVID-19 Updates from PEPS

[August 21, 2020]

Pre-pandemic, families gathered for their PEPS group in homes and community spaces. While we look forward to a time when families can come together once again in person, based on careful consideration of data and guidance from the State of Washington and King County Public Health, all PEPS Groups are meeting virtually and will continue online for the entirety of the 12 week sessions.

The Health and Safety of our Community

PEPS is centering decisions about group meetings around the health and safety of babies, parents, and our group facilitators and we are hearing from families clearly that this is top of mind. We recently conducted a survey with expectant parents and group leaders on their comfort levels on meeting families in person for their PEPS group, with feedback showing that 34% of expectant parents and 45% of Group Leaders do not feel comfortable meeting in homes until a vaccine is readily available to the public. PEPS is prepared for the possibility of groups continuing to meet virtually into the following year, dependent on public health recommendations from the Safe Start Washington plan. We recognize that the guidance may change during the time that the group is meeting, but we believe this is the best approach to provide clarity, consistency, and cohesion for group participants and group facilitators.

Looking Forward

PEPS intends to reintroduce groups of people meeting in homes and in public community locations responsibly. We are working on processes and procedures to ensure that can be done safely and we are making decisions based on the information we have at this time. We will share more about our plan to re-introduce in-person groups with a staggered approach, when we have more details, through this page and direct communication with participants and registrants.

We acknowledge that not meeting in person is disappointing and is different from the expectations you had and the experience of your friends, neighbors, and coworkers who have participated in PEPS under different circumstances. We believe in the benefits of in-person connection, and while facilitating groups in a virtual setting has its challenges, our staff and group leaders have been collaborating, learning, and adapting to provide the best experience possible. We are so grateful for the flexibility and creativity parents and group facilitators have shown during this unprecedented time.

"I am so thankful that we can still hold PEPS classes despite not meeting in person. The PEPS staff has been incredibly supportive, and the training provided helped me develop the skills I needed to facilitate on Zoom. I've learned about group chats, sharing documents and most importantly how to keep the same nonjudgmental and supportive environment our parents deserve. 

For the group, it feels like we are meeting in person as the sharing is real and gritty and the overwhelming support they give each other is so heartwarming! Now more than ever these parents need community and these meetings provide just that."

- Connie H., PEPS Group Leader

Finding Support and Connection

Support and connection are vital for new parents and their newborns during a time that researchers know to be an already isolating period. We know that when we strengthen our connection with one another, we are healthier, more resilient, and more fulfilled. Hundreds of new families are currently participating in virtual PEPS groups each week and with the onset of a global health pandemic, finding a community to learn, reflect, and connect with is even more critical. Please also consider visiting our COVID-19 resource page for parents. We encourage families to find safe ways to continue social interaction outside of their scheduled group sessions, in adherence to public health mandates. Visit our Keep Your Group Together page if you’re looking for ideas on how to maintain a connection with other families once your PEPS group meetings have ended.

Thank you for being part of our community,

The PEPS Team

Coronavirus is not specific to any race, nationality, or ethnicity. Misinformation about coronavirus can create fear and hostility that hurts people and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. We are stronger as a community when we stand together against discrimination. Take advantage of these resources to prevent, interrupt, and respond to stigma. Please also consider visiting our COVID-19 resource page for parents.

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