Resources for Families in Kent County in Response to COVID-19

The health and safety of Kent County families is of the utmost importance as we all monitor and take precautions regarding the coronavirus COVID-19. 

Michigan students will not return to schools for the remainder of the year, and that is bound to put a strain on your family and young children. First Steps Kent wants to connect you to valuable resources that can help keep the children in your lives safe and healthy.

First Steps Kent urges all families to review the Center for Disease Control  and Kent County Health Department websites for the most up-to-date information.

Help with Essentials

  • Calling 2-1-1 is going to be your best bet if you have any needs for food, shelter, utility bills. Start there, and they can direct you where there may be help available.
  • Many Kent County schools are opening grab-and-go meal sites while schools are closed. Check out Feeding America West Michigan website for times and locations.
  • The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids will offer FREE MEAL SACKS for children in need in partnership with Kid's Food Basket during the statewide school closure. For kids age 0-18, on weekdays for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Find the list of distribution sites here.
  • For a family who doesn't have internet service at home: Comcast is offering its internet essentials service free for the next two months. Apply here.
  • If anyone needs diapers and wipes, Catholic Charities West Michigan is handing them out, along with free meals at God's Kitchen during their to-go meal service in the back of the building. Monday-Saturday, 12:30-2 p.m. and Sunday 2:30-4 p.m.
  • Beginning Tuesday, March 24, 2020, The Rapid will implement a reduced service schedule effective seven days a week. This schedule will remain in place until further notice. View the new schedule here.
  • Child care - If you work in an essential industry (ex. police, firefighting, healthcare - including inpatient food service, custodial staff, etc.) and are in need of care for a child between the ages of 0-11, click here to complete the intake form.
  • This list for West Michigan resources, put together by WMCAT, has many more resources for food, shelter, utilities, health and fun. Check it out here. 

Mental Health Resources

  • It is normal to feel worried, anxious, stressed right now. Kent ISD put together this infographic of how what signs to look for and where to find help. Including reaching out to Network180 or Pine Rest.
  • Substance abuse and mental health counseling. SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

COVID-19 Testing

  • Spectrum Health has a virtual tool  to screen anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call their hotline at 833.559.0659.


  • The Refugee Development Center has translated important COVID-19 announcements.
  • The CDC has also translated many of their fact sheets and print resources.

Brain Building Activities to do at Home

  • Zero to Thrive released a coloring story book to help children with their big feelings during COVID-19. Download it in English or Spanish here.
  • Use Kent District Library at Home! You can get videos, books including Tumblebooks - a collection of animated, talking picture books, as well as games, educational tools and more geared toward younger readers.
  • Mystery Science has gone through their elementary science lessons, pulled the easiest ones to do from home, and put them up on this link for free. No sign-up required, no student login.
  • Early Learning Neighborhood Learning Collaborative (ELNC) put together this (clickable) Family Resource guide. It includes resources and activities.
  • National Geographic Kids  is full of great resources and videos.
  • These educational resources have opened up their learning libraries for free while school is out.
  • GoNoodle resources for kids  through songs, videos and more.
  • Experience Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park including livestreams of the butterfly exhibit, daily story time with staff and “virtual visits” through their Facebook page.

How to talk to your children about COVID-19

    • On the University of Michigan Health Blog, a pediatric psychologist offers five tips for parents on how to talk about the pandemic with their children.
    • These recommendations are taken from the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Nurses. Specific age-appropriate talking points to use with children are on this website. 
    • And another great resource from
    • PBS offers 10 tips for talking to your children about COVID-19, including letting them know what to expect and trying to maintain as normal or a routine as possible.

    If you have anything else to add to this list, email Megan Streng, Communications Manager at

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