Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Five COVID-19 related policies and procedures your nonprofit should have in place


Crisis management is difficult even under normal circumstances, and with an on-going health crisis, it is even more difficult to predict what policies and procedures your nonprofit should have in place. If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that preparedness and resiliency against known risks and threats are essential, no matter the context.

Staff Leave Policies

You may want to review your sick time and personal leave policies. If you have not already done so, you will want to adjust this policy to reflect the requirements from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  This law provides two weeks of emergency paid sick leave, a subsequent ten weeks of partially paid family leave for childcare, and potential refundable tax credits for employers to cover some of the costs of the mandates. 

Remote Workers Policy

Working remotely has become commonplace in today’s work environment.  If you have workers working remote, your organization should already have some sort of policy in place.  A remote worker’s policy will be helpful in keeping your staff safe and ensure your business operations and services continue. Businesses looking to introduce a remote workers program should create specific guidelines to ensure all employees understand what is required from them when they work remotely.

Programs and Services

A policy like this should address how you will continue to offer the programs and services to those you serve. During COVID-19, this could include how your organization will address safety concerns and basic operational needs, as well as how to ensure you are giving accurate and timely information and instructions for those individuals and communities that need it. Consider how you will keep your employees, members, and clients safe, what this system will look like, and how you will communicate to staff, stakeholders, and your members.

Communication/Social Media Policy

This policy would focus on your internal and external communications, particularly with staff, stakeholders, the board of directors, and the community in which you serve. During this time, you may want to evaluate how you are providing information, including what is happening at your organization during the crisis and whether or not you are sending out external resources to keep your community informed as the situation continues to evolve. For a more detailed look at what this policy can entail, reference the Standards for Excellence Institute guide.

Cyber Security/IT

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a spike in phishing attacks and ransomware attacks, capitalizing on the COVID-19 crisis.  Develop an understanding of the cybersecurity risks confronting your organization, including the risks to systems, assets, data, and capabilities. Cybersecurity training should be mandatory for everyone. Every employee must be aware of all types of threats. Individuals using a computer should know about basic password security and safe internal browsing practices.  Additionally, this policy should cover what resources you will need to make remote working sustainable.

Hawley & Associates understands that the effects of COVID-19 has altered the risk management profiles of many nonprofits.  There has never been a better time to review your insurance program – assessing the types and extent of protection you may have (or not have) for losses and claims related to the virus.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

4 Steps in Preventing Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

Regardless of the progress that has been made over the years concerning gender equality in the workplace, most studies on the topic show that businesses and organizations still have a long way to go. According to a recent survey performed by the Pew Research Center, 42% of women in the United States claim that they have experienced some type of gender discrimination in the workplace, which can be an issue throughout the entire employment process, from the job interview to the exit interview or retirement.

The most common examples of gender discrimination in today’s workplace include failure to promote, unfair treatment, pregnancy discrimination, and receiving less support based on one’s gender – all of which are illegal and offensive,  much like any other type of discrimination, based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or age.


The most effective way to keep your employees motivated to learn new things and grow with the organization is by making them feel safe and appreciated. A discrimination-free workplace is vital to achieving this goal. Here are a few steps organizations can take to ensure gender discrimination cannot and will not thrive in the workplace:


Make the hiring and evaluation processes as transparent as possible by clearly identifying key milestones workers need to reach in order to qualify for senior-level positions. This is a great way to ensure your employees get promotions or pay raises solely based on their hard work and dedication.


Build an honest, safe, and friendly environment for all parents, fathers included. Paid maternal leave as part of your family-friendly benefits package is great, but proper parental leave for both mothers and fathers is even better. Furthermore, covering your employees’ pregnancy-related health insurance is also a benefit that can make your organization very attractive to top talent.


Sensitivity training will help organizations avoid complications and gender-based harassment or violence, as well as the lawsuits that can stem from these issues. Additionally, it’s imperative for your team to feel comfortable voicing their concerns and coming to executive leadership when looking for a solution. This kind of trust that is built in your organization will empower employees to be better at cooperating, communication, and performing their everyday tasks.


The most effective way to prevent potentially hostile work environments, and lawsuits, is to draw clear lines and identify what types of behaviors that won’t be tolerated, regardless of the scenario. However, even if your organization takes legitimate steps towards preventing gender discrimination, it only takes one such incident to tarnish an organizations reputation and possibly lead to a very expensive lawsuit.


Should your employees feel discriminated against and decide to bring a lawsuit, the legal expenses and reputational damage can be severe. Having the proper risk management program in place is critical in protecting against these possible expenses and damages, while business insurance allows the organization to transfer the financial stress and damage to a third party, the insurer. Having insurance that covers the financial aspect of such an undesirable situation allows your organization to deal with these types of allegations in a proper manner, with full attention for the employee’s dignity and safety.

In the event of a gender discrimination claim, the insurance policies that typically respond to these types of incidents would be either Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), or Directors and Officers Insurance (D&O). EPLI will respond to any employment claim, such as wrongful termination, failure to promote, or harassment based on an employee’s gender. The policy can cover both the legal costs to defend as well as settlements reached, or any fines imposed.

However, it’s not just the organization that is at risk for claims regarding gender discrimination. If employees who allege gender discrimination are not content with the way executive management responded to them, they make look to sue the organization’s officers personally. In such cases, EPLI will not protect the executives and board members of your organization. Having a D&O policy in place will help protect the personal assets of directors and officers and pay for both defense costs and damages that arise from such claims.


The team at Hawley and Associates has a niche understanding on how to protect nonprofit and social service organizations from gender discrimination claims and other employment-related incidents. Our team will work alongside you to obtain the right coverage at the right price. Contact us to learn how we can better support your mission.

Thank you to our Veterans!


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Commercial Insurance Forecast: Cloudy with A Chance of Increased Premiums

When it rains it pours...

If things aren't bad enough, the insurance marketplace is following suit. We are seeing premium increases, many sizable, for more lines of insurance than we've experienced in recent memory. Along with the increases, we are also experiencing more restrictive coverage, minimum premium increases, lower limits and some carriers are even exiting certain markets altogether. But, there is reason for optimism!

Now more than ever it's important to have a 'beacon in the storm' advocating for you at your next renewal.

Hawley & Associates specializes in providing innovative insurance solutions exclusively for nonprofit, social service and human service organizations. It's all we do and we can help you navigate through your next renewal.

Our unique specialization gives us an advantage in accessing hard-to-find specialty markets and aggressively negotiating for the lower premiums and coverage you need to fulfill your important mission.

We can DO when others can't!

Cost Saving Quotes

We intimately understand the nuances of insurance in this vital sector, as well as the balance between your bottom line and the coverage you needed to protect the life-changing work that you do.

Come on in out of the rain, and contact us today!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

New Executive Order Signed to Support Child Welfare Systems

As child-protection agencies across the country struggle with multiple challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump signed an executive order focused on strengthening child-welfare programs nationwide. We at Hawley and Associates were enthusiastic to read the underlying goals of this order, which include decreasing child maltreatment, empowering adoption programs and increasing support for at-risk families, with the goal that fewer children need to be separated from their home and placed in foster care.
The order also aims to enhance federal oversight of child-welfare requirements by having Health and Human Services (HHS) advise states on the use of federal funds to support legal representation for parents and kids. It also directs HHS Secretary Alex Azar to assist care-givers by increasing the availability of trauma-informed trainings, expanding education options, and addressing barriers to accessing federal funding.
The global pandemic has left child-protection agencies with a slew of issues. Some family proceedings have been disrupted, which at times has caused delay in the child’s exit from foster care to return home. Many biological parents have been denied normally routine in-person visits with children placed in foster care. All while some agencies are saying it’s become harder than ever to recruit new foster parents.
This executive order has come when our child-welfare systems have needed it most. It envisions three basic areas of reform:
  • Creating “robust partnerships” between state agencies and public, private, faith-based, and community organizations. The goals would include development for community-based, abuse-prevention and family support services and holding states accountable for recruiting an adequate number of foster and adoptive families.  
  • Improving resources provided to caregivers and those in care. The order says HHS will increase the availability of trauma-informed training, support guardianship through funding and grants, and enhance support for kinship care for the roughly 20,000 young people who age out of foster care each year.
  • Improving federal oversight over key statutory child-welfare requirements. Among other steps, this proposal directs HHS to advise sates on the possible use of federal funds to support high-quality legal representation for parents and children.
Martin Guggenheim, a law professor at New York University who focuses on children’s rights and family law, said he was heartened by the mention of legal representation.
“Rigorous research proves that improving parent representation is one of the best ways to promote the safety, permanency and well-being of children,” he said via email. “It significantly reduces the amount of time children must endure the trauma of foster care.”
Hawley and Associates commends this corrective legislative action to provide much needed aid to those serving our child-welfare systems and most importantly, the children who depend on them for their support and services. We are eager to see this order come into fruition and will be monitoring its progress closely.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Why Covid-19 Should Have You Rethinking Cyber Liability Insurance

In this day and age, organizations rely on computers, networks, and electronic data to complete essential tasks. With most companies implementing work-from-home guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic, office staff are dependent on technology like never before. For organizations unfamiliar to the challenges of having staff work-from-home, there are dangerous cyber risks at play, such as hacking and data breaches, which can lead to costly damages for organizations trying to navigate these new waters.

Cybercrime is the fastest growing crime in the United States, and it’s increasing in complexity and cost. In 2019, cybercrime costs businesses over $2 trillion, and by 2021, it is estimated to cost the world $6 trillion annually. Because of this, the team at Hawley and Associates work diligently to ensure our clients are fully protected against any unforeseen circumstances.

It’s clear that cybercriminals have taken advantage of the opportunities presented by the pandemic and businesses are more likely to become victims as attacks quickly advance.  Social engineering is a tool of deception currently being used that relies on manipulating human emotions to bypass our critical thinking – a game that cybercriminals play all too well. They exploit uncertain or emotional situations to manipulate people into taking actions they would typically refrain from.

Attackers have been reveling in the chaos the pandemic has created by taking advantage of employees working from home, without the technical protections that their organization’s IT network usually provides. Additionally, many employees are working from their personal computers, often shared with family members, all while processing sensitive and potentially personally identifiable information (PII) without the extra security of managed endpoint protection.  Many standard insurance policies are not intended to act in such dispersed environments, leaving policy holders less protected against wire transfer fraud and other attacks.

The loss, compromise or theft of electronic data can have a detrimental impact on a business, including the loss of customers and revenue. Businesses may also be liable for damages stemming from the theft of third-party data. Cyber liability coverage is crucial to protect businesses against the risk of cyber events, including those related to breach of data, lost devices, and terrorism.
Cyber insurance policies are sold by many of the same carriers that provide business insurance, such as E&O insurance, business liability insurance and commercial property insurance. Most policies also include first-party and third-party coverage. First-party coverage applies to the losses that directly impact a company, while third-party coverage applies to losses suffered by others from a cyber event or incident, depending on their business relationship with that company.
Having a cyber insurance policy in place helps cover the financial losses that result from cyber-attacks. Furthermore, cyber-risk coverage helps with the costs associated with remediation, including payment for legal assistance, investigators, crisis communicators, and customer credits or refunds.


Because cyber liability insurance is relatively new and rapidly evolving, policies will vary widely from one provider to the next. We here at Hawley and Associates take pride in the strong relationships we’ve maintained with our insurance carriers and are steadfast in our mission to provide the right policy you need to guarantee you and your organization are well protected.  We carefully review policy details to ensure it contains the necessary protections and provisions needed for each specific type of business. In addition, we evaluate whether policies provide protection against known and emerging cyber incidents and threat profiles.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on every industry in the world, which has opened unimaginable doors for cyber-criminals. Because of this, we have seen an uptick in cyber liability claims come across our desks from organizations of all sizes. This assures one common fear we all have – no one is safe from these attacks. Therefore, if your organization has inadequate cyber liability insurance coverage, or maybe you have none at all, please contact us for a free quote and to answer any questions you might have on how to better protect your mission.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Expanding into Nevada

Some more good news to reach the headlines! Late last month, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption announced they were expanding the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program to Nevada. Through this program, the Foundation supplies funding to adoption agencies to hire recruiters who implement an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model. According to the Foundation, the model of the program has been proven to be up to three times more effective at serving children who have been in foster care the longest, including teenagers, sibling groups and children with special needs.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has worked tirelessly for almost 30 years to find permanent homes for more than 155,000 children in North America’s foster care systems. In 2017, the Foundation introduced a business plan to full scale the program across all 50 states and Washington D.C. As the plan comes to an end of phase one, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program is now under statewide expansion in Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington and now, Nevada. To date, this program has helped find adoptive homes for more than 9,000 children across the United States, including 146 youth in Nevada, the Dave Thomas Foundation stated.
Here’s a closer look at what has already been accomplished in Nevada:
  • 406 children served
  • 99 children currently on caseloads
  • 238 children with families waiting for court finalization
  • 146 permanent placements.
At Hawley and Associates, we believe every child is entitled to a loving family they can celebrate their successes and feel a sense of belonging. We are delighted to witness such massive action being taken by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. An evidence-based program, such as Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, is precisely the type of work needed to permanently place all children in foster care into safe, loving homes. We are looking forward to watching this incredible program expand across North America.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Hurricane Safety and Preparedness

The hurricane season officially starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th. The 2020 North Atlantic hurricane season is off to a historically fast start with already three named storms by early June.  This year will mark the sixth consecutive year that a named storm has preceded the official start of hurricane season. The 30-year average number of named storms is 13.  This year experts predict 17 named storms.

According to The Weather Channel, they have seen 5 unusual events so far this season:
  • Three named storms have already formed in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season (none of these became a hurricane).
  • Cristobal was the earliest "C" storm (or third named storm) on record and its remnants tracked to Wisconsin.
  • Bertha made landfall one hour after it formed.
  • All three storms brought impact to the U.S.
Below are some helpful resources to assist you in creating a clear hurricane plan that can help your company minimize injuries and property damage and get back in business quickly following a storm:

FEMA Hurricane Tool Kit
FEMA – "Every Business Should Have A Plan"

Hawley & Associates wishes everyone safety this hurricane season. If you have questions about your insurance coverage or would like an insurance policy review, please contact us!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Sesame Street Teams Up with CNN To Host Town Hall Meeting Discussing Racism

Considering the race relation challenges the nation and world has been witnessing, some parents and child advocates might find it challenging to find the words when explaining these situations to young children. Back in April, Sesame Street partnered with CNN to spell out the ABC’s of Coronavirus in a televised town hall for parents and kids. Now, they are back to help families and caregivers educate their children about racism. This Saturday, June 6 at 10a.m. ET, CNN and Sesame Street will be hosting a 60-minute special Coming Together: Standing Up To Racism.
The PBS Muppets will be welcoming diversity and explaining how to be empathetic and understanding. According to CNN, the show intends to talk to kids about the recent nationwide protests.  Big Bird will be co-hosting with CNN commentator Van Jones and reporter Erica Hill. Original Sesame Street cast members will be joining as well – including Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Rosita. They will be helping to answer questions submitted by families. 
Sesame Street has been with us for over 50 years helping to explain the ins and outs of the world to children. They have never shied away from addressing the dark or scary topics of society with kids. A new Muppet was introduced in 2011 who struggled with hunger. Another Muppet moved onto the street who had autism, and in 2009, they even debuted a cute character who was HIV-Positive. And just last year, a new character named Karlie explained how he lived in a foster home.
Viewers can tune-in Saturday, June 6 at 10 a.m. ET on CNN, CNN International and CNN en EspaƱol. It will also stream live on’s homepage and across mobile devices via CNN’s apps, without requiring a cable login.
Hawley and Associates was founded on the core belief of empowerment, equality and a brighter future for our clients and community. In this, we stand with our neighbors of color against systemic racism, injustice, hatred, and police brutality. Treating all people with dignity and respect is a cornerstone of our mission, and in this very difficult time we commit to acting in alignment with our values. Based on this, we continue to stand behind you and your mission to help make a difference in the communities we all serve and support.

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Gift of Art: 10-Year-Old Girl Gives 1,500 Art Kits to Kids in Foster Care and Homeless Shelters During Pandemic

A 10-year-old girl is solely responsible for giving the gift of art and smiles to more than 1,500 kids in foster care and homeless shelters during the Covid-19 shutdowns. The brains behind Chelsea’s Charity – a nonprofit started in August 2019 for the purpose of donating art kits to at-risk children – is Chelsea Phaire, a vibrant sixth grader from Danbury, Connecticut, who started this organization with her parents as part of her 10th birthday present.
“Since she was seven, she was begging me and her dad to start a charity,” Candace Phaire, Chelsea’s mom, told CNN. “She was so persistent, every couple of months she would ask, ‘Are we starting Chelsea’s Charity yet?’ When she was turning 10, she asked us again, and we decided it was time to go for it.”
Chelsea asked people to give her art supplies instead of birthday gifts as a way of commencing the charity on her birthday. After the first round of donations helped to supply several dozen art kits for children in need, Chelsea pushed on and set up her charity’s Amazon Wishlist as a way to collect supplies for the kits. Since then, Chelsea’s Charity has donated hundreds of art kits to women’s shelters, schools, and homeless shelters impacted by gun violence in 12 US States. Each kit contains crayons, gel pens, coloring books, paper, and colored pencils. Although stay-at-home orders have prevented her from personally delivering the kits like she normally would, she has still managed to send an additional 1,500 art kits since quarantine started.
Chelsea believes art is a healing remedy, which is why her mission is to help as many traumatized kids as she possibly can through art. Despite her tenacity and zest for life, she herself is no stranger to trauma. When Chelsea was just 8, someone considered part of her family lost their life to gun violence. This was the point that art went from being a hobby to the perfect therapy. Knowing that there are other children out there also dealing with trauma is what motivated Chelsea to help make art more accessible to kids in need and to help them cope with their emotions.
Candace Phaire, who is a professor of early-childhood education at Central Connecticut State University, believes art plays an important role in the emotional development of children. “Art therapy is being prescribed a lot more to support the mental health of young kids, especially those with social and emotional deficiencies,” Phaire told CNN. “Now with Covid-19, a lot of kids in shelters and also children in foster homes might not have access to art supplies they usually find in school. It is also mental health awareness month, so that’s definitely motivating us to ramp it up and send even more kits.”
While she may have had to alter her in-person delivery service to accommodate social distancing, it won’t stop Chelsea from bringing smiles and hope to children all over the country. During such unprecedented times we are all experiencing, it’s restorative to see such selfless action taken to spread joy and wonderment throughout our communities. All of us here at Hawley and Associates commend Chelsea and her willingness to serve others and we have been truly inspired by the message behind Chelsea’s Charity.

Friday, May 22, 2020

International Crime Ring Targeting U.S. Unemployment Systems

A global pandemic means everyone on planet earth knows about COVID-19 and its effects on industries across the world. The Identity Theft Resource Center says for scammers – this is like the Super Bowl, the World Series, the World Cup, and the NBA finals all rolled into one. And now, federal unemployment benefits are their next victims.
As all states struggle with an extraordinary spike of jobless claims amid the coronavirus pandemic, cyber criminals are targeting unemployment sites with fraudulent claims to illegally funnel money, according to the U.S. Secret Service. More than 36 million Americans have filed for first time unemployment benefits since early March as stay-at-home orders force businesses to shut down, leading to layoffs across the nation. In the meantime, state departments have become completely overwhelmed due to the high demand, limited staffing, and out-of-date unemployment websites – and criminals are making the most out of this chaos.
The attackers have used detailed information about U.S. citizens, such as social security numbers, banking information and more that may have been collected during past cyber-attacks, to file claims on behalf of people who have not been laid off, officials said. These attacks have capitalized on state unemployment systems at a time when they are drowning in claims to process from an employment crisis unrivaled since the Great Depression.
The Secret Service dispersed a memo last week cautioning officials that these criminals seem to be connected to a Nigerian crime ring and may have already stolen hundreds of millions of dollars, security researcher Brian Krebs reported. The memo said the scammers were primarily targeting Washington state, as well as North Carolina, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Florida, and Wyoming. The Washington state agency that oversees unemployment started to comprehend the degree of the fraud last week, when people who are still employed started to call and ask why they had received confirmation of unemployment benefits, according to The New York Times.
Using stolen credentials to fraudulently file for unemployment is just one of the tricks they use, while also reportedly recruiting “money mules,” or people who transfer illegally obtained money on behalf of others to disrupt the paper trail, according to the Secret Service. The Agency is warning states to remain on high alert for fraud schemes, warning that every state could be susceptible.
On top of the current pandemonium we are all experiencing, being on the lookout for fraudsters is now on the forefront of our minds. It is pivotal to be able to identify scams that might try to contact you by phone or email, pretending to be able to help in some way. Hawley & Associates cares deeply for our clients, employees and community which is why we have compiled this guide on steps to take if you or someone you know falls victim to the current unemployment scam or any other type of identity theft.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Senate Lawmakers Seek $5 Billion to Track Down Child Predators Without Compromising Encryption

With the Senate back in session last week, Democratic lawmakers revealed new legislation aimed at drastically expanding the federal government’s resources dedicated to the targeting and prosecution of child predators, developing new technologies to identify child sexual abuse material online, and funding leading community organizations that work to prevent children from becoming victims.
In a nutshell, the Invest in Child Safety Act would create a new Office to Enforce and Protect Against Child Sexual Exploitation, which would manage a Child Sexual Exploitation Treatment, Support and Prevention Fund. The fund would contain $5 billion to be apportioned between 2021 and 2030 to a variety of agencies for programs or activities directed at addressing child sexual exploitation. The Act also makes a few minor changes to the law, including increasing the time frame that authorities must act on reports about child abuse materials received from online platforms, before the platforms are required to delete those materials.
The bills chief author, Sen. Ron Wyden, credited reporting by the New York Times, with exposing what he called a “failure” by Congress and the White House “to respond to disgusting crimes against children that are shared online.” Chilling investigations by Times reporters Michael Keller and Gabriel Dance last year unveiled the failure of Washington and America’s tech companies to aggressively cut off the circulation of child sexual abuse material online, despite having the technical means to do so.
The bill, which also allots for funding to school-based mental health services, amends the existing law behind the CyberTipline, the nation’s central reporting system for child abuse content, managed by the nonprofit National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), doubling the allotted time companies can preserve digital evidence from 90 days to 180 days. The bill also requires entities reporting to the CyberTipline to preserve illicit material using only methods established by information security experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The Invest in Child Safety Act would additionally lead to the hiring of “not less than 100” new FBI agents and investigators specifically assigned to developing cases against online predators. And it would double funding for various related programs, including the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, and the National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC), which trains criminal justice professionals in the prosecution and prevention of child victimized cases.
Before it was introduced to the senate, the bill received endorsements from the National Children’s Alliance, the Child Welfare League of America, and the Family Online Safety Institute, as well as David Kaye, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Expression.
“Law enforcement agencies at all levels in the United States are significantly under-resourced when it comes to investigating and prosecuting child sexual abuse material online, and only able to pursue a fraction of the cases referred to them,” the Open Technology Institute said in its endorsement. “The Invest in Child Safety Act would directly address this problem, providing meaningful resources that would equip law enforcement and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to more effectively combat this crisis and hold predators accountable.”
Hawley & Associates applauds this remedial legislative action, Congress, organizations, and individuals whose hard work contributes to making the world a safer place for children.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Life After Lock-down: Going Back into the Office

With so many phrases and terms being thrown at us every day relating to COVID-19, it’s enough to keep our heads spinning for a while. The most prominent term being discussed is social distancing – the entire world now recognizes the importance of staying six feet apart from one another.  Even though our entire planet is going through this crisis together, we are all in very different stages of pandemic life. But as we begin to visualize life after COVID-19 and re-emerge into society again, we need to start thinking about the new normal and how we will adjust. The “six-feet rule” isn’t going away anytime soon and we must all come to terms with how critical it is to normalize this guideline into everyday life.

Government-mandated lock-down orders to help contain the spread of the virus have radically changed how and where people work, with millions switching from the office to the dining room and meetings moving to video conference. As restrictions are relaxed, offices are being redesigned to minimize transmission risk and prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases. Imagine one-way corridors, buffer zones around desks, and clear plastic screens to guard against coughs or sneezes becoming the new office standards after stay-at-home orders have been lifted.

International real estate company Cushman & Wakefield has come up with a workplace design concept to help initiate the new model of office life. The concept uses social distancing guidelines to keep areas around desks empty. A prototype in the company’s Amsterdam office shows clients how spaces can be newly configured. Changes could be hard to adapt to for workers who are used to the social interactions in modern open-plan offices, and research shows that the more isolation that employees experience, or perceive, has a negative impact on their satisfaction with work and overall mental well-being.

Employers are seeing the immense benefits of remote working during the pandemic and some companies, like Nationwide, have already taken the plunge to make it a part of their permanent work culture. Many companies are performing much better than they predicted at the beginning of the crisis, with employees stating they are getting more work done, feeling more productive, and managing a better work-life balance.

When and if you return from remote work, let’s acknowledge that there are big and small adjustments we can make to improve sanitation and safety in the workplace. While the full impact of COVID-19 on work and the workplace has yet to be determined, it is clear the pandemic’s lingering effects will leave a trail of uncertainty as we navigate a new normal. A silver living of our forced isolation is that is has given us a lot of time to think more strategically about our environments. Let’s use this time to make them better. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

May is National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month and we want to take time to acknowledge the foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.
With over 400,000 children in the foster care system at any given time, and a new child placed into care every 2 minutes, the need for support services, essential items, and foster parents is high. National Foster Care Month shines a light on these children and points us all in the direction of solutions.
We would like to share some inspiring real-life stories and raise awareness of the need for strong, collaborative communities that help keep families together.

5 Great Tips on How to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Home

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. It is also known as Battle of Puebla Day (not Mexican Independence Day). While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.
Cinco de Mayo will look a little different from previous year celebrations amid the Covid-19 outbreak.  We remind you to celebrate at home and have no gatherings outside the immediate household. Also, please remember the importance of social distancing and to wear a mask while having fun during the Mexican holiday.
Here are 5 tips on how to celebrate at home:
1. Support your local Mexican restaurant.
The chances are your local Mexican restaurant is opening for delivery or take-out.  By supporting our local restaurants today, we can help ensure they will be around tomorrow.
2. Inform yourself on the Battle of Puebla:
Take some time to learn about this holiday and why it is celebrated.  Knowing the history behind Cinco de Mayo, can help you celebrate in a more respectful and educated way. Puebla is actually one of the few places in Mexico that highlights this holiday.
3. Learn to make a true Mexican margarita:
Believe it or not, you can actually have a margaritas that doesn’t come from a pre-made mix!  There are many online recipes and classes on how to make the perfect margarita from scratch (and some creative spin-offs from the original cocktail).
4. Have a Zoom Fiesta:
Gather your friends on a group Zoom call. Set a festive background and put on some fun music and toast with a margarita.
5. Cook at home
If cooking at home is more your style, the options are endless when it comes to Mexican inspired dishes. Enchilada’s, tacos, fresh salsa and creamy guacamole are a great place to start!

Is Compliance Really the Goal of Childhood Behavior?

Compliance is a word that is used regularly in the world of behavior. It’s written about in Individualized Education Programs, it’s used as a goal when students have behavioral episodes, and data is collected on how often it does or does not occur. Even in personal interactions with kids, such as with our own children at home, we often place a more significant weight on compliance than we do decision-making.
“Listen and obey.”
“Do as I say.”
“Because I said so.”
“Don’t argue with me.”
Think about the kind of message that is sending kids. Are we conveying a message that obeying is more important than making decisions or thinking critically? When compliance is the primary focus, we’re instilling in kids’ minds that the lesson to be learned is how to follow instructions. And while that is a crucial life skill all must learn; it must also be taught alongside the evaluative process. Some of the most influential people in history have only made an impact because they refused to blindly follow the demands of authority figures in unjust moments. Without their critical thinking, which led to their active disobedience, we never would have had the social progress brought about by Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Malala Yousafzai or Nelson Mandela.
Focusing solely on pure obedience, or working entirely toward compliance, steals a child’s ability to develop critical thinking skills. Those critical thinking skills are what kids use to keep themselves safe. If that instinctual willingness to disobey is completely suppressed, kids are less likely to report someone who is abusing them, less able to interpret their own fight-or-flight instincts in emergency situations and less willing to create significant social changes in their communities.
So how do we go about instilling these crucial traits while also avoiding argumentative and entitled behavior?
It starts by giving kids options. Instead of telling kids what they can and cannot do, try laying out several options out in front of them and asking what would happen if they chose each option. Help them in making the connection between actions and consequences and they in turn will become more confident in making the right decisions. Kids are more willing to make decisions that we give them credit for.
Oftentimes, when kids disobey or make “bad” choices, it’s not because they want to be harmful or disruptive. It’s because they have not connected their actions to the correct negative consequences, yet. It’s the job of parents, teachers, coaches and advocates to help kids in making those connections, giving them opportunities to learn by trial and error, and helping them process scenarios they might not yet be mature enough to process on their own.

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Big Drop in Child Abuse Reports in L.A. Leaves Advocates Worried, Not Relieved.

Reports of suspected child abuse in L.A. County have taken a nose-dive in recent weeks. That news may sound incredible during normal times, but in a COVID-19 world, that drop has advocates very concerned. According to a statement by DCFS Director Bobby Cagle, since the middle of March, L.A. county has seen a 40%-60% decrease in the number of suspected child abuse reports from the public.

Numbers like these leave child advocates feeling uneasy. People who are mandated to report suspected child abuse, like teachers, cannot flag what they do not see when kids are out of school. These children are out of sight, and that’s very frightening. DCFS usually sees a large increase in the number of reports after kids come back from summer break, which is something expected to happen when children start to return to school. The increase could be more striking than they have seen historically. In order to brace for the possible escalation of cases, the agency is recruiting additional foster families who can step in under those circumstances.

Meanwhile, advocates are worried about how the coronavirus is affecting current foster families. Older foster youth who are now providing for themselves are also feeling the effects of a catering economy, as many have been laid off. Situations like this can really send these children into a difficult situation where they don’t have a safe place to live and are not able to meet their very basic needs like food.

Nonprofits that provide housing, mental health therapy, legal assistance and other services for abused kids are struggling amidst the crisis, with fundraising events cancelled and other donations dwindling. Yet despite all the challenges they are faced with, there are still people doing what they can. Social workers are still responding to emergency calls and going into the community. Attorneys and judges are working together to hold some hearings virtually. And volunteers are working with nonprofits to get iPad’s and laptops to foster kids who need them to keep up with their schoolwork.

On April 13th, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $42 million in funding for children who are at greater risk for abuse or neglect because of the pandemic. This funding includes almost seven million dollars for social worker overtime and additional outreach and nearly two million to extend poster care payments for the roughly 200 youth who age out of the system every month.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Uncertainty of the Earthquake Insurance Market

The earthquake market has moved onto unstable grounds as insurers and alternative capital investors demand higher returns on their capital. Over the past 20 years, the earthquake insurance market has narrowed down significantly, with many insurers leaving the market entirely, while others refuse to issue new policies in certain high-risk areas.  Even among those still willing to sell coverage, stricter underwriting standards make some types of dwellings ineligible for coverage.

Those who can obtain coverage find they are required to “self-insure” to a much greater extent than in the past. Rate increases have intensified over the last year, with deductibles up to 20 percent of the dwelling value being more common than not. Buyers should expect higher prices this year for the same coverage.

In an uncertain market, its not a matter of if, but when the next big earthquake hits. Being proactive is key to obtaining the best results and getting an early start on renewals is crucial. Buyers who can provide better and more detailed information on their risks can expect a higher chance of acceptance from underwriters. Make sure you have a knowledgeable broker that has broad access to markets across the industry, so they can obtain a broader range of quotes and help insureds find the coverage that meets their goals.

If you have any questions or are looking for quotes on earthquake insurance, please contact us and we will be happy to serve you.