Updates from the FCA Essential Workers on the Front Lines of the Pandemic
While we have made it through some dark days, and are starting to see our circumstances stabilize, the fallout that has occurred because of COVID-19 across all facets of daily life has left many Long Islanders and their families in a difficult position. Recognizing the urgent need both at the onset of this health crisis and still today in the wake of the pandemic, FCA has been, and still is committed to helping our Long Island communities.
With the support of caring community members and businesses who donated to FCA’s COVID-19 Client Assistance Initiative, we have been able to expand our essential services and continue to support Long Island’s most vulnerable children, families, seniors, and communities during the pandemic.
We could not have provided this extraordinary level of service and outreach without our dedicated and compassionate neighbors, friends and partners who thoughtlessly stepped up during these unprecedented times
Here is a quick glimpse into some of the work that FCA essential workers and volunteers have done over these last few trying months.
It is the quick thinking and tireless efforts of the Addiction Prevention, Treatment & Recovery program staff that kept individuals on the paths to recovery during the pandemic. There were challenges along the way of course brought on by quarantine and the temptation from those vices that so many were able to distance themselves from before quarantine, but with diligence we continued to help our participants forge forward down the path to a life that they so well deserve.
From telehealth services to virtual support groups and extended availability of staff via phone and email, our services remained up and running, never to waver in their commitment to our community.
FCA’s Sherpa program provided crisis stabilization to individuals at risk of overdose, providing services to 207 new individuals during COVID and linking a total number of 360 individuals to life saving resources. Our team also linked 117 families with loved ones who are struggling with addiction to the important resources to help them manage their family unit.
During March through August, THRIVE programs served a total number of 2,865 unique individuals. We facilitated a total number of 720 virtual groups with 3,811 duplicated group participants. Our coaches provided 405 recovery coach sessions to individuals in recovery and family members
To meet the emerging food insecurity needs of the Hempstead community, FCA’s Family Treatment and Recovery Center located at 126 N. Franklin Street continued to provide weekly food packages from our non-emergency food pantry, giving out 201 food pantry bags throughout March through August. Our Family Treatment and Recovery Centers also have an established relationship with Island Harvest, where clients who are receiving substance use treatment who are food insecure also work with a dietician. This project distributed an additional 229 food pantry bags during the same time period in Hempstead and 82 bags in Hicksville.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to lives all around the world, but at the family level it has led to a significant reorganization of everyday life. Each family member is coping with or being exposed to a variety of stressors including the quarantine, social distancing and isolation, school closure and home-schooling, and employment with increased financial pressures, working remotely and keeping businesses running, and all while caregiver resources are being restricted. A disruption in routine is stressful for any child but vulnerability is significantly increased when there’s a mental health diagnosis and even more challenges are added if the school environment is relied upon for structure, therapeutic services and social safety nets. Not having access to the services and supports that these families and their children typically rely on proved very trying and draining to the time, resources, energy, and overall well-being of these individuals.
Recognizing the fragility of this time, our Children’s Mental Health & Wellness staff immediately jumped into action to meet the needs of every participant and those of their families. For the first few months, families could choose between a combination of Telehealth and tele-video health services through applications such as FaceTime, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams, and while these options continue to be available, in-person services were added to the service array in June and staff are once again meeting with children and families in their homes and communities.
Our Care Management and Health Home Care Management programs saw the need to increase support to the 25 enrolled families during this time and increase the frequency of contact from per month to twice each week for a total of 1350 between April and June.
Family Center staff also turned to innovative ways of engaging families and providing a necessary break from social distancing restrictions as well as remote learning. Events included a Virtual Mother’s Day event, Family Fun Baking, Virtual Art, Music Therapy, Family Art in the Park, Miniature Golf, and an upcoming Yoga in the Park.
Every month from April to June, Family Center held a 4-week Virtual Mental Health and Wellness Self-Care series with a total attendance of 64 over 16 weeks.
Families met weekly to learn basic mindfulness/meditation ktools, enhance their ability to stay grounded and focused, build stress coping skills, prioritize self-care and self-nurturance, recover from anxious thoughts that are mentally paralyzing, and learn to establish resiliency.
From our immigrant communities to low income families to foster-care youth, each of these distinct populations were significantly disadvantaged by the Coronavirus and its ripple effects. Our Prevention & Family Support staff stepped up to the plate immediately, providing around the clock services including a brand new COVID-19 Crisis Helpline for Immigrant communities.
In less than four months, over 400 calls, representing 1,205 individuals received services from FCA, more than half being children. With NY at the epicenter of the 2020 Coronavirus and our LI Hispanic and African American communities being especially hard-hit, all callers received information about local food pantries, immigration resources, legal options, medical advocacy, translation assistance, and the ability to speak with a mental health counselor for short-term counseling. With the assistance of donations to FCA and referrals to other programs, over $15,000 in gift cards were provided to assist clients in meeting their basic needs of food, rent and medication.
Our Nursery Co-op launched a virtual program to cater to those toddlers who were once familiar with coming to the nursery to learn and spend the morning supervised by our team while their parents went off to work. Throughout the pandemic we provided a remote classroom program for our children and assisted community families who were experiencing food insecurities, emotional hurdles or needed guidance on completing difficult and complex applications for financial assistance. We provided services to over 69 children, culminating in in a summer camp program of over 378 Zoom sessions where 56 children participated.
The PACT team went out into the communities delivering food, supplies, and even just a reassuring smile from a familiar face to the single-parent families who were struggling to make ends meet even before the pandemic. Services were extended and tailored in countless ways to make sure that the community knew that FCA was there for them and that they were not alone during these extremely challenging times.
Staff delivered food and PPE care packages to all clients monthly. Basic needs of diapers, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels etc. were also provided as needed to over 200 families.
What do you do when you're told to quarantine at home, but are a homeless youth or adult with mental/behavioral health issues left with nowhere to turn? That's where FCA comes in. From our Nassau Haven 24/7 Emergency Youth Shelter jto our West Nassau Adult Residence, FCA remained open with services in full swing during the pandemic. Nassau Haven continued to take in homeless youth stuck amidst the crisiswith nowhere to go when other organizations had closed their doors.
Aside from providing the usual services, with residents not able to go to school or work, the residential programs expanded their offerings and became more than just a place to call home. Frome homeschooling assistance, to workshops, educational acitivities, socially distanced day trips, graduation and birthday parades, our residential staff went above and beyond jto provide a glimpse of normalcy during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Residents were, and continue to be educated regarding COVID-19 safety precautions. Staff worked dilligently to provide oversight that helped residents develop an understanding of the protocols in place to ensure health and safety.
All residents attending school transitioned to distance learning and staff provided support ot help them accomplish this. The career counselor kept regular contact with school personnel, keeping track of assignments and staff suppported the residents in accomplishing their tasks as assigned.
FCA was able to raise funds to purchase Chromebooks for those youth in our residences who had no electronic devices to use for at home schooling.
Nassau Haven and Walkabout recieved funding through the federal government to "prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19". Through this funding source the program has been able to build a learning center on site at Nassau Haven jto help homeles youth engage in distance learning with staff support.
Wtih schools closed and runaway and homeless youth no longer being identified by those referring sources, staff developed a newsletter to send to school personnel as well as community resources to help keep the lines of communication open for those youth who may be in need.
Walkabout and Nassau Haven staff established a regular schedule of activities to keep youth engaged during quarantine adn to provide activities that encouraged physical distancing.
Staff lead activities such as yoga and cooking, as well as took walks in the neighborhood or at local beaches and parks.
As suburban homeless and runaway youth continue to be difficult to reach in light of the pandemic, Nassau Haven will be rolling out a virtual drop in to provide a safe space for youth to engage.
From our seniors stuck in nursing homes to those isolated by themselves at home, FCA's Senior & Adult Services programs were busier than ever making sure that this very vulnerable demographic was cared for and protected from the threats of COVID-19.
These dangers included high levels of fraud and COVID-19 related scams that older adults and seniors often fall victim to, the kind of dangers not even directly related to the abundance of medical risks brought on by the pandemic. With seniors unable to receive the supports, services, and socialization they were used to and thrived on, our staff had to spring into action to make sure these individuals were kept safe and well cared for during these challenging times.
Over the course of the pandemic, FCA senior program staff were all hands-on deck. Staff reached out to over 8,000 seniors to provide education, information, support and much needed connection to vital resources. FCA staff focused on reducing isolation, addressing food insecurity, sharing safety information and making sure seniors knew they were not forgotten. FCA senior division staff continue to reach out to Nassau County's vulnerable seniors on a weekly basis.
As businesses, senior centers, and adult facilities were closing their doors, FCA's EISEP Program was swinging into action to meet the unprecedented food insecurity needs of our clients and the community.
In total, FCA chore workers and volunteers have delivered 195 shelf-stable food boxes to vulnerable seniors, shopped 144 times for food and essential items and FCA EISEP case managers connected 349 seniors to the Nassau County Office for the Aging Homes Delivered Meals Programs.
FCA's Ombudservice staff provided detailed weekly reports and feedback to NY State providing clarity and documentation of how the pandemic has impacted jthe most vulnerable members of our communities. Staff responded to 479 COVID-19 related calls over the past 6 months.
The staff provided support, guidance and advocacy to distraught family members who were unable to see their loved ones in nusring homes and assisted living facilities. The Ombudservice staff and volunteers often acted as a liaison between the family and the facility and were able to listen with compassion, giving valuable feedback that increased peace of mind.