Like most providers of child and family services, Seneca Family of Agencies has typically relied on in-person contact as the single most effective tool to provide responsive academic and therapeutic supports. As we all encountered the realities of 2020 and COVID-19, Seneca made massive changes to ensure our staff – and the children and families we support – stayed healthy and safe. Over the course of 2020, Seneca applied novel strategies to service delivery, providing distance treatment and leveraging our partnerships to get essential support to young people and families in need. To do so, Seneca worked quickly to train our staff to utilize telehealth technology and employ treatment modalities that are compatible with this medium, ensuring we continued providing high quality care to children and families with as few interruptions or disruptions as possible.
The vast majority of our services shifted to provide the bulk of services remotely, with the exception of crisis intervention and acute-needs programming. Virtual service delivery meant that staff had to get creative to make sure that kids and caregivers were receiving the academic, social-emotional, behavioral, and family functioning support they needed. It was critical that we showed clients and families that our care for them was truly Unconditional – we continue to show up for them no matter the challenges the pandemic presented.
One treatment modality that was quickly transitioned to a virtual format by Seneca’s therapists was Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a psychotherapeutic tool to support healing from trauma. EMDR utilizes eye movements, tapping and other external stimuli. Staff mailed care packages with therapeutic tools, procured connective technology for families, and taught caregivers tapping techniques over Zoom. By consistently working to meet each kid’s needs even as these needs emerged and evolved over the course of the past year, our teams successfully adapted EMDR to be delivered virtually.
Seneca is known for our commitment and ability to develop robust continuums of care for children that can respond flexibly to meet a family’s ever-changing needs by seamlessly scaling up and down in intensity and “following” a child and family wherever needs may arise: in the home, at school, or in the community. This past year, this commitment was put to the test. Thanks to the creativity and tireless efforts of Seneca’s team of service providers, and through the use of virtual treatment strategies like EMDR, clients continued making progress toward their individualized goals while remaining safe at home. In a year of unique needs and challenges, Seneca supported 79% of children receiving individualized mental health services to make significant progress towards their goals – and 40% to meet ALL of their mental health goals.
To support Seneca’s work in building and sustaining families in Orange County, join us on November 6th, 2021 at the Balboa Bay Resort for our 4th Annual Forever Families Gala. For more information and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.foreverfamiliesgala.org or contact Carly Santos at Carly_Santos@senecacenter.org/714-308-4578. To learn more about Seneca’s work, please visit www.senecafoa.org.