Going Virtual in the Tri-Cities

by | Apr 29, 2020 | Child Welfare

Our nation may be under a stay at home order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but Victoria Huey still has a full work day ahead of her. 

Victoria works for Lutheran Community Services Northwest as a care coordinator for the Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) program in Kennewick. Instead of reporting to her Tri-Cities office, making client home visits and attending meetings, she fires up her laptop in her home office. She has regular check-ins with her program team and supervisor, meets virtually with her families, and stays on top of paperwork.

The new way of doing business happened rapidly. When LCS Northwest closed its offices to protect the health of our clients, staff and community, we made a commitment to find ways to continue serving our participants. Thanks to donor support, we were able to purchase laptops and put them in the hands of direct service staff like Victoria. 

“As soon as my laptop was delivered, I familiarized myself with the apps I would need to use,” said Victoria. “This new technology lets us stay connected with our kiddos and their families while working remotely. We can do video and phone check-ins and chats while safeguarding all personal health information.”

The conferencing feature is especially useful for the WISe program because of its team-based, collaborative approach to working with youth facing behavioral and mental health challenges along with their families.

The entire team, which varies in size based on each youth’s needs, can participate in a video conference. Team members share slides and documents and update information in real time.

“Our kiddos and their families are more comfortable in this online environment,” Victoria noted. “They’re participating from their homes instead of being in our office. It feels more relaxed for them.”

One of her clients, a child with autism, is an example. When they met face-to-face, Victoria said he didn’t communicate much or pay attention. He has become much more engaged since their sessions have moved online. He pays attention from beginning to end and participates in conversations.

Telehealth and online services will remain a resource in our toolbox. Victoria can see herself using these resources after the stay at home order is lifted. It won’t replace all face-to-face meetings, but it can provide additional access and flexibility to struggling kids and their families.