FACE Home-Based Virtual Service Delivery
The COVID-19 health crisis has affected everyone in his/her personal and professional lives. The everyday world turned upside down and we had to find a new normal in an unfamiliar situation. One thing that did not change, FACE families need to connect with their parent educators. Even as the world was changing, our FACE families continued parenting as children continued to grow and develop.
The need for the FACE program’s support was critical to families during the pandemic. Many FACE families needed additional resource connections to support family health issues, food security, and/or unemployment issues to just to name a few. FACE families needed parent educators to support them in focusing on their child’s development, parenting behaviors and mental and family well-being to provide some stability in a new, uncertain world. In addition, FACE families benefited from the social connections of the FACE Family Circle.
FACE responded to COVID-19 in creative and unprecedented ways. The parent educators participated in professional development opportunities and sought guidance from Parents as Teachers, BIE, and community resources to gain knowledge on supporting families during this health crisis. Applying this information and using the parent educator’s creativity many families were served, supported, and provided with resources as FACE families continued to grow.
Personal visits took on a new look during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every FACE program was asked to consult with their administration on delivering personal visits during the health crisis. The delivery of FACE services did not look the same for all programs. Parents as Teachers National Center (PATNC) had been exploring the delivery of personal visits through live video conferencing platforms for some time. To follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to minimize exposure by implementing social distancing, PATNC recognized the need for virtual service delivery during this unprecedented time. Virtual personal visits could be conducted using either interactive video conferencing (IVC) or telephone. The purpose of the virtual visit is to continue to support families in all three areas of emphasis: development-centered parenting, parent-child interaction, and family well-being. All virtual personal visits were to be planned and recorded in Penelope as before the pandemic.
FACE responded to virtual personal visits and connecting to families. Programs reported a variety of ways they continued serving families, although some interactions would not count towards a virtual personal visit, the commitment to connect with their families remained strong. Many parent educators developed parent-child activity bags and delivered through the mail, with bus routes delivering lunches, or conducted virtual personal visits using technology to send parent handouts. Some parent educators have provided check-in phone calls to support FACE families. Parent educators have also helped to pack lunches and distribute food.
FACE Family Circles
FACE Family Circles (Group Connections) were also encouraged by PATNC. The FACE programs were asked to consult with their administration for guidance in conducting FACE Family Circles. If approved by the FACE administration the same planning and recording prior to the health crisis was required in Penelope. The FACE Family Circles (Group Connections) brought challenges to many programs and families. The lack of internet connectivity, technology devices, and appropriate virtual platforms hindered some parent educator’s efforts in conducting FACE Family Circles. Even with these obstacles some FACE Family Circles or efforts to bring together FACE families occurred.
FACE responded to virtual FACE Family Circles. Programs have reported drive-by end-of-year celebrations as families remained in their cars and were on the school grounds at the same time. This allowed for waving, smiling, and connecting on a different level as the program distributed baskets of food, activities and prizes. Other programs reported conducting virtual FACE Family Circles. Using a secure virtual platform, for confidentiality, families connected by discussing self-care and participating in parent-child interaction as they made earrings, medicine bags, and a talking feather.
The COVID-19 pandemic began affecting programming in March 2020 and this presented issues with completing the second ASQ-3 on FACE children. If the FACE administration had agreed to virtual personal visits parent educators continued to try to complete the second ASQ-3. With guidance from the FACE technical assistance and webinars from the Home Visiting Rapid Response (found in O.L.I.V.E.R./Work Spaces/Model Implementation/COVID-19/Rapid Response) many FACE children completed the required screenings. The parent educators did face some obstacles in completing all screenings because some families did not want to participate in virtual services because telephone and internet connections could be challenging. Also, the ASQ Kits were located at the school and staff were not permitted on campus.
FACE responded to virtual screenings. Some FACE parent educators have reported they were allowed to enter their office and retrieve needed supplies such as the ASQ Kits, parent educators report they used a virtual video conferencing and shared their screen for parents to see the ASQ as they completed it together. Other parent educators dropped an ASQ-3 Questionnaire copy at the parent home (social distancing of course) and completed the questionnaire with parents via telephone.
Parent educators report many of their FACE families were seeking support and connection to community resources. As the situation was changing rapidly with new COVID-19 cases reported in the area, so did community resources and outreach. Parent educators have been updating and keeping a Resource Directory all year and those that were connected to advisory committees and had developed professional relationships with other community resources were receiving information of support for families. The parent educators were then able to help meet the needs of the FACE families.
FACE responded to resource connections. Through the professional relationships established by the parent educators they knew where free lunches could be obtained, food giveaways, mental health support, and unemployment support. The parent educators were also referring to the Parents as Teachers COVID-19 support to enhance their knowledge and share with the FACE parents.
Several resources and guidance in providing virtual services are available to FACE at the Parents as Teachers website/O.L.I.V.E.R./Model Implementation/COVID-19. Be certain to review and share these resources with the FACE administration as we continue to move forward in supporting families. Remember to contact the FACE Home-Based technical assistants with questions or concerns.
It is with commitment and determination that the FACE parent educators continue to support the families of their community. Serving families in personal visits, screenings, FACE Family Circle, and resources with on ground or virtual services strengthens families and communities. It is with gratitude and thanks to all the parent educators for their efforts during this trying time of the COVID-19 pandemic and their commitment to FACE families that we say, THANK YOU!