Supporting in a Different Way

There is a lot to worry about at this moment. When staff learned that their jobs would be transitioning to working from home last week, the resounding buzz from our 15 locations was, ‘How are we going to continue serving our families with the same level of service?’

It turns out, there was no need to worry. Staff is not only continuing the high-quality level of service expected by our clients; they are adapting faster than anyone could have predicted.

Many of the services that historically were provided 1:1 are now happening with the help of technology. Visits, learning, and staff meetings are moving to Zoom, a web-based platform that allows employees to connect with families and each other virtually. Sue Dounetos, Healthy Families America Manager, shared that her employees are exchanging resources, learning ideas, and connecting families to essential services, such as daily meals and unemployment benefits. She said, “This experience is making our team stronger than ever. The sharing of information creates a bond that ultimately benefits the families. Although it wasn’t something we would choose, this situation is not going to stop us from supporting the families we serve”.

That determination is common with the staff at Children’s Friend. Donna Tomaselli, a Head Start Family Advocate, heard that one of her families ran out of toilet paper. That day Donna tracked down a package and delivered it to the family. The client was so happy to see her; she wanted to hug her. Donna said, “It’s wonderful to see the parents from afar. The level of appreciation is amazing. It was tough to have to say- ‘I want to hug you, but I can’t”. 

Maintaining client contact is crucial to the success of the programs at Children’s Friend. In our lifetimes, these vital services were provided mainly one way: in-person. Our staff stepped it up this week by figuring out how to do the work differently with almost no time’s notice. I see this as proof of our claim to being the innovative leader and a reflection of our commitment to our mission. Although we have more work to do to complete this temporary transition, I could not be more impressed with the way everyone is grooving into this new way of working. As Donna put it, “It’s been okay, we are working in a different way”. 

Rebecca Paquette

Chief of Talent