In this difficult time, for thousands of people across Northern New Jersey, Family Connections’ programs are more vital than ever. Which is why we are pivoting in every possible way to continue delivering crucial support.
As a provider of Essential Services, we have and will continue to work closely with state and federal government to ensure that both our staff and clients feel safe, supported, and connected. Our amazing staff has stepped up to implement creative, innovative and even fun(!) ways to deliver our services on virtual platforms. For example:
- Our Home Safe supportive housing staff has moved over 200 families into new forever homes and is keeping in touch by phone and video. We’re learning that many are running out of food and money and have no way to get to a decent grocery store. So our staff are shopping and delivering food, bus tickets, gift cards and care packages.
- How can you possibly continue to arrange and supervise safe, therapeutic visits between parents and their children who are in foster care?! Sounds impossible, but our Supportive Visitation staff is already setting up virtual supervised visits as well as post-visit debriefings with both parents and children, to process not only the stress of living separately from their children/parents but the new added stressors of being cut off from work, school, and friends.
- Our Strengthening Families program is entirely based on families meeting together weekly for a healthy meal and separate group activities for parents and for children – all to enhance family bonding and coping skills. We called all the families currently participating and EVERY ONE wanted to continue to meet by phone or video. For the kids groups, the staff member who’s leading those groups is recording himself reading children’s books that address how the characters deal with challenging events in their worlds, then sending the videos to parents to play at home for their kids. And as for the meals, we’re converting that into ShopRite gift cards, because many of our parents have lost their jobs and are struggling to feed their families.
- Our School-Based programs have had to close because their schools all closed. But that hasn’t stopped our staff from sending out near-daily Remind text messages with tips about starting your day with gratitude, how to practice mindfulness, and 50 things to do when you’re stuck at home. Our weekly student mental health clients are getting their sessions by telehealth and several have asked to increase to two sessions/week because of deepening symptoms of depression and/or anxiety brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and resultant social isolation. Even our skills-building groups have been able to switch to videoconferencing so students can continue to connect with each other while learning new coping skills.
As we work hard to maintain our programs, we will continue updating you on our efforts and our impact throughout the crisis. Thank you for your continuing support and for keeping Family Connections the place where hope meets possibility.
Please continue to check back here as we add resources and information for our community throughout this crisis.
Read about the impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health by Family Connections’ CEO, Jacques Hryshko in the Health & Wellness section of TAP into SOMA here.