The school closures in response to coronavirus have been difficult for our families who rely on Children’s Aid services during school hours and after. As students and families continue to adjust to remote learning and spending more time indoors, Children’s Aid staff are adapting how they deliver services while also offering additional supports in response to community needs.
At Mirabal Sisters Campus in Washington Heights, which is home to two middle schools, teachers were hearing from students about new challenges in their home environments. With so many more people in the home during the day, students are having difficulty concentrating on remote learning. The youth were looking for support to help them manage their responsibilities in the face of these new barriers.
Teachers realized they needed help to address these concerns, and reached out to our therapists at the campus’ school-based health center.
The therapists were able to provide students with constructive ways to handle this new situation, according to Karina Grant, a social worker at Mirabal Sisters Campus. Working together to share tips and resources, the therapists have expanded their services to include more than the behavioral health they are licensed to provide.
One therapist responded to a family’s urgent need for food. After hearing about their struggle to obtain groceries, Yazmin Pena, a senior mental health social worker at Mirabal Sisters Campus connected the family to a food delivery service that brought perishable items and ready to heat food directly to their doorstep.
“The biggest challenge is instilling a sense of hope and answering questions, especially since so much is still unknown about the virus,” Yazmin said.
“We are all faced with the same uncertainties and worries and so all we can do is remain positive, listen, and be a voice for the families and do what we can day by day,” Karina added.
The work the behavioral health team is doing is vital, and with so much stress and worry from the families in our communities, the therapists feel a strong sense of validation when they see how grateful the families are.
In addition to the gratefulness from families, the school principals and administrators have echoed the sentiment. “School leaders have individually reached out thanking us for maintaining contact with students,” Karina said.