As we make our way from pandemic to endemic, there is discussion about if, how, and when is the right time to return to in person. The same is true here at TFC as we make our way through summer and work together with TFC teams around the world. Online platforms have served us well and, in many ways, are necessary to continue providing services, but not sufficient in meeting the needs of young people and families and the standards of the TFCO model. At TFC, we will continue to use online platforms as a supplement to our support for agencies and teams providing TFCO worldwide.
Although at times it seems easier to stay at home, to sit in our pajamas and join via Zoom, nothing takes the place of being together, exchanging ideas… and sharing a snack! There is an energy that comes from being in person, in the same room, with people that have like-minded interests. For many of the agencies and courageous staff serving vulnerable youth and families, there has never been a break to in person treatment. The creative and bold ways people have strategized to stay connected and provide services— in vans, through windows, and outdoors, bundled up— is admirable. We applaud and salute you! Here at TFC, we’re excited to be returning to in person site visits and to be scheduling clinical and foster parent trainings as in person events. We are modeling what we think is an important step as we move forward, understanding that it’s not always easy, but that it is necessary.
Our amazing VP of Implementations and consultants compiled some practical and useful ideas for the return to in person treatment teams and foster parent meetings. These meetings occur weekly and, during Covid-19, transitioned to Zoom meetings for safety.
TFCC Recommendations for Returning to In Person Meetings:
- Get to know your homes and what they need (what works for them in particular)
- For ongoing maintenance – Drawings for attendance or some type of prize as a thank-you
- Meeting could be online as backup for everyone in cases of weather or health safety, or a specific home could join online due if something inhibits their ability to attend that week (example: testing positive for Covid)
Here are some benefits to meeting in person:
- Fewer distractions – Over Zoom, it is common to become easily distracted, doing other things during the meeting, having camera off, driving, etc.
- Attendance – Attendance is more consistent because the treatment foster parents don’t leave early or after their youth is discussed.
- Point sheets – It is easier to generate quick changes for immediate response to behavior needs and to reinforce their work.
- Refreshments – Drinks and snacks increase group connection.
- More welcoming to new homes – Less awkward in person. When new treatment foster parents can meet others in person, it is easier to build community.
- Social learning – More group discussions, more modeling, more support, more social time, more opportunities to offer their experiences.
- More depth – It is easier to be clinically rich in person.
- Reinforcement – It is easier to deliver tangible reinforcement.
- Meeting staff and hallway hellos – Without this on Zoom, the team cohesiveness and engagement are reduced.
- Office climate
- More team-to-team-member support/connection
- More privacy – On Zoom, having youth or others around may lead the treatment foster parents to limit what is said in fear of youth overhearing. In person, without this worry, there is increased effectiveness.
- Viewing – In person, it is easier for the Team Lead to see everyone in attendance and to monitor their engagement and engagement with others.
Forward together to healthier and safer communities!