Our response to COVID-19

Our response to COVID-19

(Video - April 1, 2020)

March 20, 2020

Dear Friends,

We have been treating the threat of COVID-19 seriously and are using thoughtful resolve and preparedness, but not panic.

Our clinical and operational teams are actively working through all situations that come with each new day. As with previous public health challenges, we play an essential role in caring for our youth, families and communities. We remain in close contact with Champaign Urbana Public Health and will take directives from them as this situation evolves.

In response to this pandemic:


  • All of our kids in residential care remain asymptomatic for the COVID-19 Virus.
  • At the direction of Champaign Urbana Public Health, we are taking residential client temperatures twice daily.
  • Beginning Monday, Gerber staff will be working with residential program staff to provide supplemental education materials to our kids in residential care so that they can maintain their educational skills during the school closure time.  
  • Our Infectious Disease Task Force will continue to meet and provide updates to agency staff.   
  • We have completed an inventory of cleaning supplies and equipment and other necessities at all locations. This will help us to deploy supplies to areas of greatest need, and to respond nimbly as items are replenished.
  • As we continue to care for our youth and families, we know it is essential that we also take care of ourselves and our loved ones. We continue to share information about ways for staff to minimize exposure and risk for themselves and others. We continue tried and true practices which help reduce the spread of illness at all times: excellent handwashing, covering coughs and other hygienic measures. 
  • Our kitchen and cafeteria has moved to single use, disposable cups, plates, bowls and silverware for all meals and snacks served.    
  • Agency meetings have turned into conference calls in lieu of face-to-face engagements. Many staff who are not in direct care are now working remotely.
  • We have begun the process of how we might leverage technology to accommodate client engagement in all of our areas: residential treatment, special education programs and community services.


CIRCLE Urbana and CIRCLE Vermilion Educational Programs are providing students with the three recommended actions from Governor Pritzker and Illinois State Board of Education:

Continuity of education:

  • We are providing academic, social emotion and self-regulation packets for every student to work on during mandated away from school days.
  • CIRCLE Staff will participate in Virtual Staff Institute Days. Staff professional development opportunities are being placed in an online Google Classroom platform. The goal is for staff to learn how to use Google Classroom and other online methods of delivering classroom instruction.   

Provisions of meals:

  • We are offering six days worth of breakfast, lunch and snack items to each student at both CIRCLE locations. 

Student support measures as appropriate for each district:

  • CIRCLE leadership, social workers and teachers will be consistently reaching out to each student and their family during the mandated days.


  • Our therapists have transitioned to remote sessions with clients, ensuring a continuity of care.
  • All youth and families we serve will continue to receive wellness check phone calls.
  • All staff have been given direction on social distancing and measures to ensure their and clients safety.


Several members of our community have reached out asking how they can help. We ask for prayers for our entire Cunningham family, especially our direct care staff who provide 24-hour care day in and day out. We understand that this crisis affects all of us but if you are able, please consider making a contribution to support the general operations of our agency.

Other specific ways to help include:

Staff appreciation for our direct care staff and therapists:

  • Single serving snack packs (pretzels, chips, cookie packs, popcorns, dried fruit without nuts)
  • Adult coloring books
  • Single serve K-cups (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) - always a big hit!

For young families we serve in our community services program:

  • UNO cards and board games like Chutes & Ladders and Checkers
  • Coloring books and washable markers
  • Basic word search books

As restaurants continue to offer carry out services, gift cards to the following would be beneficial in order to assist our kitchen staff as well as provide a special treat to our residential staff and youth:

  • Arby's
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Dish Passionate Cuisine (Champaign)
  • Dominoes
  • Hickory River
  • KFC
  • Papa John’s
  • Toro Loco

These items can be dropped off in the vestibule at the Spiritual Life Center on our campus at 1301 N. Cunningham Avenue Monday- Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

We thank you for your support during this critical time. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of you and your families.