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Resources to Help Families During the COVID-19 Crisis

Organizations offering essential assistance to families, from food to health-care services and more

Published on: March 18, 2020

mom with a child on her lap looking at her computer

This time is difficult for everyone. But the hardest hit will be those who have lost jobs or food security, and populations who are already vulnerable. Luckily, there are organizations that offer assistance with food, utilities, rent and other bills. We’ve also gathered a list of available child-care facilities, volunteer opportunities, COVID-19 health guidelines and where to go if you are experiencing a gap in health-care insurance.


Food Lifeline is a website for finding resources in your area. Type in your ZIP code to find the nearest food banks, pantries and meal programs. Most are offering help to everyone, whether you qualify financially or not. Check your local food bank for specifics.

School meal programs

It took a few days, but most school districts have instituted a grab-and-go service, offering breakfast and lunch for anyone 18 and younger. Most aren’t checking IDs, but the child must be present. Check your school district’s webpage for more info.

Supporting seniors

Sound Generations provides older adults and disabled persons with assistance services related to food security, transportation, health and wellness.

Health-care insurance

For those families experiencing a gap in health-care insurance coverage, check the Washington Health Plan Finder. A special enrollment period is now available through April 8, 2020, to qualified uninsured individuals. Apple Health enrollment is year-round. Customer support is available (but experiencing longer wait times) between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-855-923-4633; TTY 1-855-627-9604. Visit the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs page for more information.

Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation

Anyone who has lost a job due to the coronavirus crisis, has had to take time off to self-quarantine or care for a sick relative and does not have sick leave can apply for unemployment insurance.

Anyone whose job brought them into contact with the coronavirus, causing them to become ill or self-quarantine, can apply for Workers’ Comp.

Rent and mortgage relief

For Seattle renters, Mayor Jenny Durkan has issued a 30-day moratorium on evictions, through mid-April.


PSE will not shut off utilities and is suspending late fees. It will also offer payment plans and other support.

Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light won’t shut off utilities and are offering deferred payment plans for both homes and small businesses.

Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission offers a list of options for keeping utilities.

The federal government's “help with bills” resources page offers a list of programs for financial assistance, from paying your phone bill to medical bill relief.

How to help others

Many of us just want to help. For those fortunate enough to not be financially impacted by the pandemic, here are a few options:


The United Way of King County has safe ways to help the community listed on its website.

The COVID-19 Mutual Aid Society is a grassroots organization established to help the vulnerable in Duwamish and Coast Salish Territories. It is organizing food and supply drop-offs for those in need. Find them on FacebookInstagram or via email.


The COVID-19 Response Fund is a coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners that has joined together to create a fund that will rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak in the Puget Sound region.

Food banks

Check your local food bank’s website before donating food. Some are only accepting monetary donations at this time to decrease the possible spread of the virus.


Many smaller, local businesses will struggle the most. Buy a gift card from your favorite spots to be used later.

Remote learning and homeschooling resources

Read ParentMap's latest guide!

Child-care resources

Parents on the front lines still need childcare. Here are some resources.

Seattle-area drop-in child care

This list was updated on March 12, but the situation is constantly changing. Always check with the provider.

Child Care Aware is a nonprofit that is helping support Washington families seeking quality daycare and early childhood programs; child-care providers needing safety and supply-chain supports; and employers needing child-care options for their workforce, particularly first responders and essential personnel. If your child-care provider closes, call 1-800-446-1114 for assistance in finding replacement child care. Child Care Aware is also mobilizing to line up supply chains to get the products child-care businesses need to remain safely operating. It urgently needs funding to do this work, so please consider making a donation to get supplies to providers right away.

The Boys & Girls Club is offering extended hours at some locations. Find one here.

The YMCA is offering child care at some locations and has ample space for social distancing.


Many school districts are organizing child care for first responders through their extended care programs. Check with your school district for options.

Stay healthy

It’s hard to know what we should be doing to protect ourselves and our families during this pandemic. Here are a few trusted resources to answer your questions.

WithinReach is committed to helping all Washington families get access to the resources they need, including offering assistance in applying for health insurance, SNAP and ORCA LIFT, or accessing WIC benefits and other early childhood development services. Those requiring assistance can call the hotline (1-800-322-2588; Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m to 5 p.m.) or submit a message via the online form on the WithinReach website.

Dealing with COVID-19 Anxiety

Many of us are dealing with mounting anxiety even if we are healthy. From having kids at home, losing face-to-face social connections and working from home, these are trying times. Here are a few tips to help cope with your and your child's anxiety:

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