Even as communities across California are sheltering in place, Seneca’s work cannot and does not stop. With the safety and wellbeing of our staff and the families we serve as our highest priority, Seneca has pivoted to distance treatment modalities, and we are working creatively with our county and school partners to get essential support to young people and families in need. Our mental health therapists are now providing critical mental health services virtually; we anticipate needing to sustain this shift to telehealth for several months to come to ensure families have access high quality therapeutic care with as few interruptions or disruptions as possible. With schools closed for the remainder of the school year, Seneca’s school-based programs are similarly making a rapid shift to virtual services so that we may support students to continue meeting their learning goals. Seneca is even slated to provide virtual trainings to help educate school districts on virtual engagement with families, as requested by Orange County Mental Health Collaborative.
Seneca’s Placement Program is working creatively to continue our critical support services for youth and families whose lives have been touched by the foster care system. The program is collaborating with county and community partners to secure placements for foster-involved youth who have tested positive for the virus or whose placements are disrupted due to caregiver illness. Staff are also actively recruiting families interested in parenting foster-involved children in our community, and just launched a new online training cohort of families to receive training and be approved for placement. Ongoing post-placement services to improve family functioning and ensure the permanency of families in this time of great stress are now being provided virtually.
The thread that runs through Seneca’s broad continuum of care is our commitment to do whatever it takes to support youth and families thrive, no matter the challenges. In this spirit, Seneca has launched a state-wide effort to procure new or gently used connective technology devices – smart phones, tablets, and laptops – to provide to the families we serve who do not have other means of accessing telehealth or distance learning services. For the families made most vulnerable by the COVID-19 crisis, these devices make a world of difference in this time of isolation and anxiety. Staff have also begun to deliver groceries, basic needs supplies, and birthday surprises so that families can remain safely at home.
While our services are by necessity going to look a little different for the duration of this crisis, Seneca’s mission remains the same: to support children and families through the most difficult times of their lives. We are humbled and grateful for the collaborative effort and support from our partners – other service providers, county, corporate, foundation, and donor partners alike – who make this work possible.
For more information or to give go to, www.senecafoa.org/COVID.