Women With Children Program Faces Unique Challenges due to Pandemic

Rinae Cotton, Reporter

Safety measures are in force in the Women With Children Program, which has remained open since March. 

Katherine Pohlidal, Director, said the Cougar Care Team, COVID-19 websites for the students, faculty and staff along with the Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health contributed to the creation of safety protocols for students and their children.  

Families receive supplies such as masks, personal protective equipment and cleaning and sanitizing items each day. Rules, such as those that forbid outside guests, are in place.

“WWC has had to create our own pandemic protocol that effectively addresses all aspects and challenges a pandemic creates,” Pohlidal said.

The protocol includes regular WWC staff updates, more access to cleaning supplies, safety measures for families who need to quarantine and daily health assessments through the Live Safe app. 

Christopher, a child in the Women with Children program, wears a mask while he observes a rock at school.
(Rinae Cotton)


“WWC staff take extraordinary measures too, with an arch of services from red, yellow and green reopening, that continue to provide support to all families in our program even when the state was in a shut down. Staff continued to provide food and household essentials to each family since March. Our program never closed through the pandemic,” she said. 

The program takes pride in a safe and comfortable environment to accommodate for each family’s needs, Pohlidal said.

She said the objective is to provide each family with assistance they need, including support for virtual learning for students and children as well. 

Pohlidal said she is pleased with how well everyone has followed the protocols so far.

“I have been impressed with how our WWC students have responded thoughtfully and respectfully toward all measures we have taken in order to protect each of our homes and one another.”

Christopher, a child in the Women With Children program, plays a game at school with a mask on. (Rinae Cotton)

Stacy McCarter, junior, said parenting during the pandemic has heightened anxiety. 

“We want our children to be safe while not worrying about the issues going on in today’s world, so it’s hard to balance,” McCarter said. 

The many extra tasks, such as cleaning and monitoring social situations, has created anxiety, as mothers have to remind their children of the new rules.


McCarter said protocols have necessarily limited the children’s natural displays of affection in social environments. Still, she’s confident about everyone’s safety due to the thorough protocols. McCarter said her greatest challenge is being both a parent and a student. Now, with the pandemic creating further obstacles, such as time conflicts with children’s education, she is taking it one step at a time.


“We just go day-to-day as the changes come, facing them head on,” she said.

She said one thing she has learned from this is stamina.

“This experience has made my family stronger, given us more stamina and endurance into our personal lives and has kept communication open with all the people involved,” McCarter said.