Staying Open and Supporting the Community During a Global Pandemic
As the country and our community started preparing to shelter at home due to the impending outbreak of COVID-19, the leadership team at Newtown Youth & Family Services (NYFS) were developing a plan to remain available and provide services to those in need while protecting the clinicians, staff, clients and participants.
During the weeks and months after the Governor signed the Executive Order to ‘Stay Safe, Stay Home’, NYFS remained 100% operational via virtual platforms in the areas of mental health, Autism programming, and support groups. In addition, supplies were distributed to families in need and the NYFS Case Manager continued to assist the elderly and other community members with obtaining help and sorting through resources from transportation to housing and beyond!
“We moved over 400 clients to an online telehealth platform, figured out how to provide effective Autism programming in a virtual world and continued to connect members in our support groups,” says Candice Bohr, Executive Director, NYFS. “It has worked, we were able to support those who needed it, but I look forward to bringing some of our clients back to the office. We have already started in-person Autism programming and it has been going well.”
Starting at the end of July, NYFS’ social recreational Autism program called REC Club, began in person sessions. REC, which stands for Reaching Everyone’s Capabilities, is about making friends and having fun while developing individual growth, confidence, independence, flexibility and patience. It was important for this group to begin in-person activities as soon as possible. Since the end of July, REC Club has completed a successful Summer session and a successful Fall session. The first Winter session will begin the second week of November.
Recently, NYFS started seeing some mental health clients in-person, those who need that face-to-face interaction. Each clinician works with their clients to determine who should be seen in person. The agency is equipped with hand sanitizer stations, air purifiers, plexiglass partitions, cleaning supplies and ample hand washing areas. Also, appointments are spread out to ensure maximum social distance.
NYFS is also knee deep in planning their largest fundraiser, the 35th Annual Holiday Festival. This is the Holiday Festival that runs along Main Street every year. But in 2020 the majority of the festival will be virtual and at-home. Activities include; the Festival of Trees, Secret Stocking Silent Auction, Elf Chats - Live from the North Pole, The Merrymakers - Carol-o-Grams, Road to Disney Scavenger Hunt, Elf on the Shelf Competition, Edible Creations Competition, and more! The Festival of Trees will have two in-person viewing days. For more information and details on the Holiday Festival you can visit www.NewtownYouthAndFamilyServices.org.
In the coming weeks and months, NYFS will continue their re-opening plan and offer more in-person services, as long as it is safe to do so.
About Newtown Youth and Family Services
Newtown Youth and Family Services [NYFS] is a non-profit youth service bureau and mental health clinic for children, teens, adults and seniors. For over 30 years, NYFS has been committed to providing high quality human health services to promote individual and community wellness. Specialized services include: outpatient individual, couples and family counseling, substance abuse treatment services, Autism and social skills programs, prevention initiatives and support groups. For services or information call 203-270-4335 or visit www.newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org.