Cutting-Edge Practice

Virtual programming and mental health support for CYSHCN families

State/Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Setting: Clinical Virtual
Population: CYSHCN
Topic Area: Access to Quality Healthcare Family & Youth Engagement Telehealth Mental Health & Substance Use
NPMs: NA NPM 11: Medical Home

Due to the pandemic, all CYSHCN service providers dramatically increased their use of telehealth services. New Jersey was among the first states to impose a lock-down (mid-March) due to our COVID-19 infection rate, proximity to New York City, and to our dense population. As a result of these strict measures, our State and various healthcare facilities had to respond quickly to this new environment. When the COVID pandemic hit, social workers and Binder Autism Center (BAC) team started making “wellness calls,” simply calling families to ask “how are you doing, what do you need, how can we help?” The staff listened and provided emotional support and connected families to community resources when needed. As a result of these calls, we began to identify the needs of the families. The consensus was feelings of isolation and loneliness due to missing staff and group activities. The BAC Staff started to provide parent education over the phone, by being supportive and helping parents develop strategies for virtual learning. We piloted small groups with the learners; attendance was high so we started to layer in more groups, such as, yoga, cooking, and science. The groups were similar to what they had participated in before the pandemic but now provided a virtual platform was added. The goal of the program was to provide telehealth services to the Binder Autism Center, endocrinology and Cystic Fibrosis patients and their families. Throughout the pandemic, we offered virtual services to the patients and the families of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. We achieved this goal by facilitating virtual, social skill development groups, cooking, yoga, and karate classes, open parent support groups, parent workshops etc. The framework was in place, the BAC always offered individual, group, and parent services.

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Implementation Handout

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital
Pamela Martorana
Practice Website