We thought it might be valuable to share with you a little of what we have been up to since our initial closure to the public on March 16th, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read along below for a message from some of our programs here at the Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) as to their progress and triumphs in this ever evolving time.
With a range of over 13 programs under the CVCDA umbrella, each one has had to adapt in their own way and come up with new procedures, methods and techniques to meet the needs of their specific services and the families they serve. Most of our team have also been working from home, which of course comes with a whole new set of challenges. Not to mention all the new technology. But we are also occassionally coming up with ways to keep it light amongst our team through some very entertaining Zoom meetings.
We are very happy at all of these achievements under the circumstances and the resilience of each of our individual teams. We are no doubt up to the challenge of continually fine tuning our services to meet the demands of these changing times and look forward to seeing all of your faces once again, when it is safe for us to do so.
A couple screen saves of our our weekly CVCDA team lunch time socials.
Aboriginal Infant Development and Infant Development Programs (AIDP and IDP)
The last two months has been a busy time for the AIDP and IDP. Although we have been working from home, we have continued to take referrals and provide remote services to our current families. Our work is typically to visit our families in their homes – so this has been a big change for us as we connect with families instead through various ways including: phone calls, texting, emails, and video conferencing. This way of connecting has become the new way of providing services with other agencies too so we have also been able to meet virtually with other therapists and community programs.
The Autism Program (TAP)
Crazy as it seems our team has been busier then expected since we closed our doors. Staff spent the first week taking part in professional development opportunities that we typically don’t have time to take part in as a team. This was incredibly productive and so nice to be able to share and discuss all the learning together. The team all completed the school based learning of the Registered Behaviour Technician course and will complete the practicum portion when we are up and running again.
One of our priorities was to stay in contact with families and make sure they knew we were here to support them. Many families have chosen online Zoom services. Some full online sessions, shorter skill development sessions, and groups. Our group kids were so excited to be able to connect with their friends and continue with their goals from the comfort of their own homes. Staff have been busy learning how to use the technology to make everything fun and engaging. They also design activities and supports that are being dropped off to families to help make the most out of these sessions.
We also took some time to do up a little video for families telling them how much we missed them, letting them know everything will be ok and we are all still here missing them.
Early Intervention Therapy Program
(Speech & Language Pathology, Physical and Occupational Therapy)
Everyone at the CVCDA is adjusting to the new normal due to COVID-19. Part of this adjustment has been trying to figure out different ways of supporting families during this very stressful time. Families who were used to meeting with therapists and consultants at home at the CVCDA are now able to meet on-line through Zoom, thanks in part to a training in Parent Coaching through e-Therapy.
Mary McKenna, one of the speech-language pathologist at the CVCDA has provided 25+ staff information on how to provide parent coaching through e-therapy to the families on their caseload. Mary, who is also a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst, is a Certified Trainer and Therapist and Parent Coach in the Early Start Denver Model, an early intervention approach for working with young children with Autism that is rooted in child development and uses the teaching principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). She was also one of the coach trainers in the PACE coaching research study the CVCDA and 17 other child development agencies participated in this past year.
Mary took her experience coaching families and training coaches, both in person and remotely, and developed a 6 hour training for staff, Parent Coaching through e-therapy. The training helped staff learn how to have those Coaching Conversations with families and how to plan and set up sessions with families via Zoom. Family priorities are identified and service providers coach the parents in specific strategies so they can help their child continue to grow and develop. With this training, staff have been able to have successful interactions with families who have wanted it and continue to keep those relationships going.
Family Support Workers
This COVID experience has been a learning curve for our program staff and participants. Since our sudden departure from working out of our office on 3rd street to working from home, we have been learning how to adapt to home offices, Zoom meetings, working while parenting and home schooling, and learning new platforms.
We have been reaching out to our families by phone, text, Facetime, and email. As so many parents are experiencing uncertainty and isolation at this time, we have had a strong focus on sharing new resources for parents in the areas of COVID education, community programs, and emergency funding, autism funding, online parenting and counselling resources and educational tools. While parents have faced many challenges during this time, their resilience has been inspiring.
We have also been collaborating through telephone meetings, emails, phone calls, and online forums with our fellow staff and community partners. Sarah and Forest have been checking in weekly with our Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) team social workers to keep up to date on changes with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCDF), learn about new resources for families, and collaborate on problem-solving new issues. We have also reached out to schools and other support agencies to collaborate on providing at-home supports for families.
This time has provided a challenging and learning opportunity for all and we appreciate our employer adapting and supporting us in this uncharted territory. We are learning how to adapt to online service delivery, phone meetings, and text check-ins…we also miss seeing the faces of our clients and colleagues in person and look forward to returning to in person services.
Early Years Community Outreach
Our Valleychild Coordinator, Cheryl Jordan has continued to update and provide early years information and resources through the Valleychild.ca website and affilated Valleychild Facebook page. Although there has not been the usual flood of local early years events to promote, she has been busy filling the calendar with a daily activity idea to assist families at home during social distancing.
Our Early Years Child Care Consultant, Sandra Allen has been very busy working as part of a community collaborative preparing and distributing Family Literacy Bags. The bags have been designed to help families feel connected to supports in their community, know how to access them and lessen possible feelings of isolation. The bags are also providing their children with ways to stay occupied and active while self-isolating or social distancing. These bags are are being delivered to families that prior to the pandemic had participated in community support programs such as Healthy Families, CVCDA, Strong Start and Family Services. The facilitators of these programs are finding ways to bring the bags to the families including some being delivered along with their food hampers.
Visit the CVCDA’s COVID-19 Update page to stay up to date and access a number of support and informational links that may assist you and your family through out the pandemic.
Visit the CVCDA’s At Home Resources for Diverse Abilities page to access a number of tools and activity links to assist you and your family during social distancing.
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