By our friends at the Child Care Resource Center:
Eileen Pierce, Home Visiting Program Manager
Rosario Williams, Family Well-Being Manager
As the very name suggests, home visiting was designed for face-to-face contact. So when shelter-in-place orders were on the horizon, we knew we needed to think and act fast. We are pleased to say that the home visiting and parent education programs of the Child Care Resource Center have been able to continue supporting families and young children. Here are some of the ways we are doing it.
In April, we launched a biweekly virtual parent group, with a theme of strengthening families and building resilience during COVID-19. A parent educator facilitated the first discussion, and we had a licensed mental health professional attend to provide recommendations and context around the behaviors that participants reported their children were exhibiting during shelter-in-place. Parents have shared about the anxiety and grief they feel over losing the family rituals and routines they had before the pandemic, and are supporting one another. A key aim is to decrease parents’ feelings of isolation and increase their social support network.
It’s been important to find ways to keep up group connection and socialization. For one group of parents with infants, an educator shared her screen, which had a handout with infant massage strokes and the parents all followed along. For another group meeting, leaders organized a virtual guided tour of rescue animals from a local ranch, which appealed to toddlers, older siblings and parents alike. The children and parents in the groups were excited to see each other for the first time since February on Zoom; they smiled and waved to one another on the screen.
Since they can’t provide materials in person, parent educators are getting creative about resources. They research activities that use common household items, and send activity plans in advance of appointments with families. They are flexible about changing the focus of activities to make use of what families have readily accessible in their home. Most of all, they know families are home with all of their children at once, so they try to use activities that meet the needs of the whole family, while still encouraging the youngest child to meet developmental milestones. In some cases, they are ordering engagement activities that appeal to a range of ages and stages and having them shipped to participants’ homes.
Staff are also diligent about connecting with families about resources in the community. They share information about free online music and movement activities and developmentally appropriate story times, as well as updates regarding free internet access and food resources in the community. When there is an emergency need for items such as diapers, wipes, or formula, they have been able to purchase the items from program funds and have them sent to the client’s homes.
Thanks to the resiliency and resourcefulness of our home visiting staff, we have been able to continue supporting families across Southern California during this challenging time. We are committed to learning from the challenges and making our programs stronger than ever.
Learn more about Child Care Resource Center at www.ccrcca.org.