With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the portrait of how we deliver services to our children and families changed in a flash. However, as a strength-based organization, we are always looking for glimmers of light, even in the most challenging of times.
So, what does success look like during a pandemic?
Without further ado, we’d like to share a few small stories of big successes:
Bay Area Region
Ten-year-old Sebastián* was referred to our Full Service Partnership program due to severe family conflict, and history of verbal and physical aggression towards himself and others. Despite some initial hesitation to participate, his team was able to quickly form a bond and start the important work of helping him understand the relationship between how he feels and his behavioral responses, and practice healthy communication skills. Even without in-person engagement due to COVID-19, the family has remained highly involved in services, and Sebastián eagerly anticipates therapy sessions, getting prepared ahead of time and wanting to learn. He is now better able to identify when he is mad, walk away, then come back to his family to calmly communicate his needs. In fact, his teams says it would be hard to find a child in the history of the program who has improved his emotional IQ so substantially in such a short time!
Los Angeles Region
With the onset of the state-mandated shelter-in-place, our Parent Institute program, which helps parents develop new skills in a safe space, quickly transitioned from twice-weekly, in-person workgroups to five smaller, virtual workgroups per week. The parents quickly embraced the change and insisted on starting each meeting, as they always had, with staff engaging everyone with a question, such as “What was your favorite dish your mother made?” The staff noted that keeping this simple tradition was a great way to provide comfort and a bit of normalcy in an otherwise unpredictable world, while the parents have reported these virtual meetings have been something they look forward to all day!
Felipe was just three years old when he was referred to our Bright Beginnings program for aggressive behaviors towards himself and others. His team conducted his initial assessment when the agency was still meeting families in their communities and homes. Once his assessment was complete, the agency was required to shift to telehealth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Felipe’s mother was very hesitant to begin services, expressing concerns about the team’s ability to build rapport with such a young child over the phone. The family’s clinician patiently addressed each concern, and eventually the mother agreed to begin services for her son. Today, the clinician reports having a successful first session through telehealth with the family, which lasted the entire hour!
Fourteen-year-old Raven was referred to our Kinship Support and Outpatient Mental Health programs after a long history of physical and emotional abuse by her biological family. She had just moved in with her aunt and uncle, but was still dealing with her past trauma, and was exhibiting defiant behaviors and feelings of hopelessness. When we first met Raven, she was quiet and cautious to engage. However, since the transition to telehealth, she has opened up like a book. She is learning to process her feelings and is willing to try new coping mechanisms, including having structured time with her aunt and uncle to communicate feelings that cannot be discussed in front of her younger cousins. Her aunt and uncle have shared that Raven is already better able to communicate her needs, wants, and feelings, and they have a renewed hope for the future!
The Inland Empire
Staff from our Specialty Applied Behavior Analysis (sABA) program completed an intake and started services with seven-year-old Malek via telehealth. He had been diagnosed with seizure disorder and was very timid, and his mother indicated she wasn’t sure whether her son would participate over video. During his first session, Malek hid behind his mother and would only engage for a few minutes. However, his team worked continually to build his tolerance in receiving telehealth services through playful engagement and consistency, and it paid off in dividends! Recently, he independently requested for the video application to be downloaded onto his iPad so he could have his own sessions and has stated “bye, Mom!” when the sessions begin. He would then prop his iPad in the living room and be ready to engage with all his toys.
*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.