Letters from the Executive Director on Sieda Community Action’s COVID-19 Response

September 23, 2020

As we’ve said a number of times over the past several months, Sieda Community Action and our Board of Directors continue to do our best to support under-resourced families in our communities while working to protect the health of clients and staff.  We also have a responsibility as an employer to follow the laws, regulations, and guidance put in place help support families (both clients and staff) affected by the pandemic. Moreover, Sieda has a responsibility to our staff to be the best possible place to work; particularly when additional stressors like the pandemic and economic fallout create more pressure for our staff. Again, Sieda has taken great pains to balance what is best for our clients and staff along with ensuring that Sieda the organization can continue to support under-resourced families when 2020 is but a distant memory.

I mention all of this because sometimes the balancing act is not perfect. Changes in the health of staff and their families, school closings, virtual learning, hybrid systems, or quarantine and isolation requirements all affect staff’s ability to report physically to work. In these cases, we do our best to ensure offices are covered and can remain open using available staff from around our service area. Sometimes that is not possible and we must close offices for a day or multiple days in a week. Like all non-profits and businesses, Sieda operates within finite resources. We do not have the budget to support hiring and training additional staff to ensure all offices remain open at all times. This is regrettable, but unavoidable.

The best course of action for clients is to call to speak with staff about their needs. A Sieda staff person can explain what information or paperwork is required for the program their accessing and help clients navigate ways to get that information to us in the safest and most efficient way possible. The phone number for all our sites is on our locations page, but clients may always call our main office at 641.682.8741 or 800.622.8340. We will make arrangements to meet your needs.

Clients Visiting Sieda Offices

As a reminder for clients who must drop off paperwork or meet briefly with staff we are currently following guidance from our program partners, the CDC, and the IDPH. We will continue to update our practices as time progresses. 

  • Masks and social distancing (no less than six feet) are required of clients in all offices.
  • No more than three clients are allowed in the waiting area at any one time (this may be fewer if office space dictates it).
  • Only a single client per household is allowed in the waiting area (family, friends, or transportation providers must remain outside the building).

Before visiting Sieda offices, we ask that clients ask themselves the following questions. 

  • Have you tested positive for coronavirus/COVID-19 and/or currently being treated for coronavirus/COVID-19?
  • Do you (or anyone in your household) currently have fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain?
  • Have you experienced any of the above symptoms in the last 14 days? 
  • Have you had contact with anyone with a known or possible exposure to the coronavirus/COVID-19 in the last 14 days? 
  • Have you or anyone in the household recently ended hospitalization due to confirmed coronavirus/COVID-19?

If the client is able to answer yes to any of those questions, we ask that they do not enter our offices or centers. Instead, please call one of our offices.

Please visit our news page or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SiedaCommunityAction/) for up-to-date information on our programs and services.

All the best,

Brian Dunn
Executive Director

August 20, 2020

Since mid-March, Sieda Community Action offices have been closed to the public. In the weeks and months that have passed, the Governor has eased restrictions on businesses and public gatherings. While Sieda Community Action has been proud of our work over the past several months and have continued to offer services to our customers (albeit it in a different way), we understand that eliminating public access to our buildings has created challenges for people. To mitigate some of those challenges, Sieda will be opening our offices to the public with some restrictions in place. Our offices will be open to the public beginning August 24, 2020. While we are opening the doors, Sieda will still be limiting the type and duration of contact between customers and staff. Much of our work can be done remotely through technology. The opening of our doors is to facilitate clients who may not have the capacity to share necessary information or documents over the phone or through other technological means. 

Clients Visiting Sieda Offices

For clients who must drop off paperwork or meet briefly with staff, it is best to call ahead to schedule an appointment to see a Sieda team member. We are currently following guidance from our program partners, the CDC, and the IDPH. We will continue to update our practices as time progresses. Currently we are opening offices for normal seasonal hours with some restrictions in place. 

  • Masks and social distancing (no less than six feet) are required of clients in all offices.
  • No more than three clients are allowed in the waiting area at any one time (this may be fewer if office space dictates it).
  • Only a single client per household is allowed in the waiting area (family, friends, or transportation providers must remain outside the building).

Before visiting Sieda offices, we ask that clients ask themselves the following questions. 

  • Have you tested positive for coronavirus/COVID-19 and/or currently being treated for coronavirus/COVID-19?
  • Do you (or anyone in your household) currently have fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain?
  • Have you experienced any of the above symptoms in the last 14 days? 
  • Have you had contact with anyone with a known or possible exposure to the coronavirus/COVID-19 in the last 14 days? 
  • Have you or anyone in the household recently ended hospitalization due to confirmed coronavirus/COVID-19?

If the client is able to answer yes to any of those questions, we ask that they do not enter our offices or centers. Instead, please call our office at 641.682.8741 or the local Sieda Resource Center. We will make arrangements to meet your needs.

Head Start centers will also begin opening the week of August 24. We are following CDC and Health and Human Services guidelines as we reopen, and will communicate with Head Start families about requirements for children and parents attending Head Start centers and partner preschools. 

Sieda will take pains to keep all our offices and centers open during normal hours. However, the increased incidence of illness, required isolation of employees exposed to the virus, or the need for staff to provide child care due to the closing or limited hours at other institutions may make it necessary to close offices due to staffing issues. We strongly urge partners and clients to call ahead before visiting offices to ensure staff are available to provide help. Hours and contact information are available on our locations page.

As we have since 1965 through this pandemic, Sieda staff and our Board of Directors will continue to do our best to support under-resourced families in our communities while working to protect the health of clients and staff. Please visit our news page or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SiedaCommunityAction/) for up-to-date information on our programs and services.

All the best,

Brian Dunn
Executive Director

May 14, 2020

With the Governor easing restrictions state wide, there may be people with questions about when Sieda Community Action will be returning to business as usual. Sieda’s leadership team is currently working on a plan to reopen our offices to the public. We are examining a number of scenarios and a great deal of information in order to make the best possible decision for our clients, our staff, our communities, and our organization.

With the exception of some select programs, Sieda has not stopped doing business since the pandemic reached Iowa in mid-March. We have continued to provide services to clients for the past eight weeks; albeit in a different way. We have continued counseling services for substance use disorders. We have continued to process LIHEAP and crisis requests to ensure our most vulnerable have access to vital utilities. We have continued to help FaDSS clients address their barriers to self-sufficiency.  We have continued to provide parent education and support through our MIECHV and Parents as Teachers programs. We have continued to help under-resourced families with Tenant Based Rental Assistance. While dealing with personal and professional uncertainty and stress, Sieda staff have continued to serve. I could not be more proud of the people who have chosen to share their talents with our organization. There is a reason we chose a super-hero as our mascot.

We hope to have a plan to share in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the following conditions remain in place:
  • Head Start centers are closed through the end of the academic year. We hope to resume classes in our stand-alone centers and our school district partnerships in the fall, but will continue to follow the advice of the Governor, local school districts, and public health officials to determine when centers will reopen. Head Start staff will continue to reach out to families to address the academic and developmental needs of students.
  • Sieda has closed the lobbies in all Community Resource Centers and office doors are locked. Sieda will continue to accept and support Low-income Home Energy Assistance applications and crisis services online and by phone. We ask that clients call their local resource center or 1-800-622-8340.
  • Sieda individual Substance Abuse counseling has moved to telehealth services exclusively. All offices, with the exception of hours for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Ottumwa, have closed their lobbies and the office doors are locked. Please call ahead to schedule an appointment for an evaluation or treatment at 641-683-6747.
  • Much of Sieda’s staff has been asked to work from home.
  • Sieda has suspended all face-to-face group meetings (this includes substance abuse treatment groups, group connections, and other meetings offered through Sieda programs). We are offering some group meetings using teleconferencing and webconferencing technology.
  • Sieda has suspended out-of-county travel for meetings and training and is limiting travel between counties for Sieda staff.
  • We have suspended face-to-face home visitation services. Sieda home-visitation staff is using electronic means to engage with families and clients.

Clients and partners may also contact Sieda via our online tool. Please be certain to include a phone number in your message so staff are able to contact you to schedule an appointment or answer your questions.

Sieda staff and our Board of Directors continue to do our best to support under-resourced families in our communities. Please visit our news page or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SiedaCommunityAction/) for up-to-date information on our programs and services. All of us at Sieda appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the next several weeks.

All the best,

Brian Dunn
Executive Director
Sieda Community Action

April 17, 2020

Following guidance from the Governor’s office and our funding sources, Sieda has made additional changes to our day-to-day operations. We continue to strive to meet client needs while ensuring we take the appropriate steps to protect community health.

  • Head Start centers are closed through the end of the academic year. We hope to resume classes in our stand-alone centers and our school district partnerships in the fall, but will continue to follow the advice of the Governor, local school districts, and public health officials to determine when centers will reopen. Head Start staff will continue to reach out to families to address the academic and developmental needs of students.
  • Sieda has closed the lobbies in all Community Resource Centers and office doors are locked. Sieda will continue to accept and support Low-income Home Energy Assistance applications and crisis services online and by phone. We ask that clients call their local resource center or 1-800-622-8340.
  • Sieda individual Substance Abuse counseling has moved to telehealth services exclusively. This is in accordance with the guidelines now allowable through the Governor’s proclamation. All offices, with the exception of hours for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Ottumwa, have closed their lobbies and the office doors are locked. Please call ahead to schedule an appointment for an evaluation or treatment at 641-683-6747.
  • Much of Sieda’s staff has been asked to work from home.
  • Sieda has suspended all face-to-face group meetings (this includes substance abuse treatment groups, group connections, and other meetings offered through Sieda programs). We have begun offering some group meetings using teleconferencing and webconferencing technology. 
  • Sieda has suspended out-of-county travel for meetings and training and is limiting travel between counties for Sieda staff.
  • We have suspended face-to-face home visitation services. Sieda home-visitation staff is using electronic means to engage with families and clients.

Clients and partners may also contact Sieda via our online tool. Please be certain to include a phone number in your message so staff are able to contact you to schedule an appointment or answer your questions.

Sieda staff and our Board of Directors continue to do our best to support under-resourced families in our communities. Please visit our news page or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SiedaCommunityAction/) for up-to-date information on our programs and services. All of us at Sieda appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the next several weeks. 

April 2, 2020

Following guidance from the Governor’s office and our funding sources, Sieda has made additional changes to our day-to-day operations. We continue to strive to meet client needs while ensuring we take the appropriate steps to protect community health.

  • Sieda has closed the lobbies in all Community Resource Centers and office doors are locked. Sieda will continue to accept and support Low-income Home Energy Assistance applications and crisis services online and by phone. We ask that clients call their local resource center or 1-800-622-8340.
  • Sieda individual Substance Abuse counseling has moved to telehealth services exclusively. This is in accordance with the guidelines now allowable through the Governor’s proclamation. All offices, with the exception of hours for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Ottumwa, have closed their lobbies and the office doors are locked. Please call ahead to schedule an appointment for an evaluation or treatment at 641-683-6747.
  • Head Start centers are closed until April 30. Sieda will follow the advice of the Governor, local school districts, and public health officials to determine when centers will reopen.
  • Much of Sieda’s staff has been asked to work from home.
  • Sieda has suspended all face-to-face group meetings (this includes substance abuse treatment groups, group connections, and other meetings offered through Sieda programs). We are working to begin meetings using web-conferencing services.
  • Sieda has suspended out-of-county travel for meetings and training and is limiting travel between counties for Sieda staff.
  • We have suspended face-to-face home visitation services. Sieda home-visitation staff may use electronic means to engage with families and clients.

Clients and partners may also contact Sieda via our online tool. Please be certain to include a phone number in your message so staff are able to contact you to schedule an appointment or answer your questions.

Sieda staff and our Board of Directors continue to do our best to support under-resourced families in our communities. Please visit our news page or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SiedaCommunityAction/) for up-to-date information on our programs and services. All of us at Sieda appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the next several weeks. 

March 18, 2020

Following guidance from the Governor’s office and our funding sources, Sieda has made additional changes to our day-to-day operations. We continue to strive to meet client needs while ensuring we take the appropriate steps to protect community health.

  • Sieda has closed the lobbies in all Community Resource Centers and office doors are locked. Sieda will continue to accept and support Low-income Home Energy Assistance applications and crisis services online and by phone. We ask that clients call their local resource center or 1-800-622-8340.
  • Sieda individual Substance Abuse counseling has moved to telehealth services exclusively. This is in accordance with the guidelines now allowable through the Governor’s proclamation. All offices, with the exception of hours for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Ottumwa, have closed their lobbies and the office doors are locked. Please call ahead to schedule an appointment for an evaluation or treatment.
  • Head Start centers are closed for four weeks beginning March 16. Sieda will follow the advice of the Governor, local school districts, and public health officials to determine when centers will reopen.
  • Much of Sieda’s staff has been asked to work from home.
  • Sieda has suspended all face-to-face group meetings (this includes substance abuse treatment groups, group connections, and other meetings offered through Sieda programs). We are working to begin meetings using web-conferencing services.
  • Sieda has suspended out-of-county travel for meetings and training and is limiting travel between counties for Sieda staff.
  • We have suspended face-to-face home visitation services. Sieda home-visitation staff may use electronic means to engage with families and clients.

March 17, 2020

The current state and national emergency brought about by COVID-19 has forced many organizations and businesses to adjust operations to prevent further spread of the virus. Sieda Community Action is no different. On March 16, Sieda leadership met to determine the best course of action that would allow our organization to both protect our communities from COVID-19 and continue to serve under-resourced families. Effective immediately Sieda Community Action will make the following adjustments to our operations.

  • Head Start centers are closed for four weeks beginning March 16. Sieda will follow the advice of the Governor, local school districts, and public health officials to determine when centers will reopen. 
  • Much of Sieda’s staff has been asked to work from home. 
  • Sieda has suspended all face-to-face group meetings (this includes substance abuse treatment groups, group connections, and other meetings offered through Sieda programs). 
  • Sieda has suspended out-of-county travel for meetings and training and is limiting travel between counties for Sieda staff. 
  • We have suspended face-to-face home visitation services. Sieda home-visitation staff may use electronic means to engage with families and clients. 
  • Sieda Medication Assisted Treatment and individual Substance Abuse counseling and treatment services will continue in most of our Behavioral Health and Treatment Services offices. We are pursuing approval and the technological means to offer telehealth counseling services. Please call ahead to schedule an appointment for an evaluation or treatment. 
  • Sieda Resource Centers will remain open to accept and support Low-income Home Energy Assistance applications and crisis services. We ask that clients call their local resource center or 1-800-622-8340. Sieda is also able to take applications online or by telephone. 

If clients must visit Sieda in person, we request that they ask themselves the following questions. 

  • Do you (or anyone in your household) currently have fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain?
  • Have you experienced any of the above symptoms in the last 14 days? 
  • Have you had contact with anyone with a known or possible exposure to the coronavirus in the last 14 days? 
  • Have you or anyone in the household recently ended hospitalization due to confirmed coronavirus or due to travel to a high risk area?

If the client is able to answer yes to any of those questions, we ask that they do not visit our offices. Instead, we recommend clients contact their healthcare provider for medical evaluation.

There is no doubt we are facing challenging times. Sieda staff and our Board of Directors will continue to do our best to support under-resourced families in our communities. Please visit www.sieda.org or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SiedaCommunityAction/) for up-to-date information on our programs and services. All of us at Sieda appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the next several weeks. 

All the best,

Brian Dunn
Executive Director
Sieda Community Action