When the COVID-19 shutdown began, Barbara White knew her staff at the Young Parents Project were on the verge of losing one of their most powerful tools.
White is the director of YPP, which helps pregnant teens, young mothers and their children toinvolved in the juvenile justice system in Miami-Dade, Broward, Counties of Leon and Gadsden. YPP is part of the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention at Florida State University and is state funded‘s Department of Juvenile Justice.
Among a host of essential services, the program helps provide access to antenatal and medical care, child care, education, computers, Wif I and basics like food and diapers. To determine the needs and the well–Being pregnant teens, babies and new mothers, YPP staff have traditionally relied heavily on in-person visits.
The COVID-19 lockdown changed that – immediately.
Like countless other social service agencies, the practices of the program have been turned upside down. For White and his staff, this meant a total change effected in no time.
“That Friday we learned that we couldn’t meet in person anymore – by Monday we had found a whole new way of thinking to get things done,” White said. “We are a relationship-based program. We’re used to doing outreach, talking with families, so it’s been more difficult because we can’t go out and do this work.
Being in person allows YPP staff to observe an entire environment, use their experience and intuition, and identify potential Questions those they serve might be reluctant to speak up.
Mimi Graham, director of the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention, said it was hard to overestimate the value of the YPP staff’s home visit, especially in an environment where people are forced to be at home. and crimes like abuse and family violence has increased.
“A lot of what they see is domestic violence and a lot of domestic violence has to do with isolation, lack of empowerment, lack of control. Therefore for our visitors it is important to have eyes on the families, ”she said. “We do virtual tours, staying in touch with them that way. You see them. Make sure they look good, that the baby is okay.
Graham added that COVID-19 has highlighted the need for the YPP’s services.
“Imagine being 15 in the middle of COVID-19 and you are pregnant,” she said. “Imagine worrying about having a baby under these circumstances.”
White said in addition to video conferencing and SMS broadcasting, his staff have embraced all kinds of social media for outreach, including TikTake videos.
“One of our employees sent in a video clip, saying we miss you, trying to re-engage them,” she said, adding that no media is out of consideration. “We try to be as creative, innovative and thoughtful as possible to reach out to our teenage mothers.“
For YouTube Partner Program staff, The absence of face-to-face meetings – and the skills they bring to them – have been tough, but White said she noticed an advantage.
“We are dealing with girls and young women and their whole world is texting and FaceTtime, ”she said. “Wwe find that some of them are more receptive to it than home visitors.
Graham and White said that much of what the YPP provides is comfort and empowerment. Teaching materials and strategies help make positive decisions–do while constant encouragement reminds girls, teens and young women the program serves that someone cares.
“In turn, they learn to take care of their babies and make better life choices,” White said.
With that in mind, Graham said she was happy with how the program responded because of White, her team, and most importantly, the teens and young moms they are trying to reach out to. Support.
“It’s really amazing what these girls can do,” she said. “We see it all the time. They didn’t get this far without a bit of courage.
For more information on the Young Parents Project, visit https://csw.fsu.edu/field-placement/fsu-young-parents-project.