As the COVID-19 restrictions continue, the 100 Families initiative has seen employment dip for the heads of the at-risk families the program seeks to help.

100 Families Director Karen Phillips said "lots" of heads of families she helps have come to her saying they’ve lost their jobs in the wake of the restrictions. Arkansas as of Wednesday mandated bars to be closed, restaurants to be limited to take-out and delivery, and all salons and barber shops to close.

A 100 Families survey tallied Friday showed the families expressed similar levels of fear about not being able to work and money issues as the virus itself and a food and diaper shortage. The survey on Wednesday had 55 responses with similar results, Phillips said.

Phillips on Friday explained that the chaos the virus and subsequent restrictions have brought upon Fort Smith and the rest of the world have prompted normal stress levels within the families.

"You have these families who have kind of grown up in a stressful family life and have kind of brought that into their new families," she said.

To help the immediate need, 100 Families partners are looking at forming a drop-off service for food and diapers for the families in need. Phillips also said they have assembled packets with educational crafts for the families while their children are out of school.

"The main thing I’ve found is if we can keep people feeling hopeful — if we can keep the stress down at homes — that’s kind of the way we can deal with our families who are already in crisis," Phillips said. "We’re not going to get a lot of people employed, we’re not going to solve a lot of their long-term problems, but we can make sure that they’re safe, that they’re hopeful and reduce some of their stress."

Outside the home, clients in the initiative who have lost work are applying places, Phillips said. She said there are enough people not going to work during the outbreak whose jobs need to be filled.

But even as some might land new jobs, concerns still linger.

"There are things we might have to deal with when it’s over — eviction, electricity being turned off, those things," she said.

As the struggling clients apply for jobs, organizations including the Arkansas Family Alliance and Antioch for Youth & Family are providing their families with food and necessities, Phillips said.

These baseline necessities both provide functional support and hope to the families, Phillips said.

"Right now, it’s just making sure everyone is safe and knowing they’re cared for," Phillips said.