All of us are now in the situation of making major and often stressful adjustments to how and where we work. Additionally, many of us have added responsibilities of supporting our children to learn while at home. The RENEW and Wraparound staff at the IOD were immediately faced with the challenge of how to support treatment providers and educators who are working with children and youth with significant emotional and behavioral concerns and their families. These staff members, which includes Kathryn Francoeur, Heidi Cloutier, Kate Doucet, Patrice Endres, Maureen Gross, Cat Jones, and Kären Clausen, are supporting communities to provide four research-based approaches: (1) Family- and youth-driven Wraparound; (2) RENEW (Resilience, Empowerment, and Natural Supports for Education and Work); (3) Creating Connections NH youth treatment project, and; (4) Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Behavioral Health (MTSS-B) in schools. The IOD staff provide training and “coaching” to more than 100 providers per year. We define coaching as a support process to ensure the transfer and demonstration of skills needed to provide a research-based intervention, with a focus on improving precision, fluency, and applicability across multiple settings, while ensuring fidelity to the practice (adapted from Snyder, Hemmeter, & Fox, 2015). Effective coaches must understand and be skilled in both the technical aspects of each intervention, as well as the adaptive aspects of supporting people to learn and demonstrate a new and often challenging skill set. 

The challenge for IOD coaches was how to transition a very personal practice, such as coaching, to a virtual platform. They have done this in several ways: 

  • IOD coaches are “Zooming” with each of their mentees and into family Wraparound meetings, and assessing the quality of practice implementation through real-time observation. 
  • IOD coaches are helping their mentees learn how to use their virtual platforms and tools to connect with families and youth. 
  • Three weeks into the pandemic, the IOD staff transformed a 2-day in-person Wraparound training into 8 modules that were delivered virtually in 2-hour increments so that new Wraparound staff could begin working with families. 
  • IOD coaches are setting up group practices via Zoom on specific topics, including opportunities to build skills and share effective strategies. 
  • IOD coaches have modified engagement and planning tools so that youth can continue to participate virtually in goal setting, team meetings, and check-in meetings. 

IOD staff have modified and delivered the RENEW Implementation Team training virtually. 

The IOD staff are hosting large gatherings for cross-disciplinary online learning opportunities, including virtual breakout rooms, to allow providers time to work together around specific topics such as positive collaboration, program development, and working with specific online tools. 

It’s not just the IOD coaches who have pivoted, however. School staff, therapists, and Wraparound Coordinators are now in regular contact with their youth and families using virtual platforms. Many report more contact now than before! And, sadly, there are some youth who are disengaged and some who do not have access to the internet or to the devices they need. The cruel reality is that the disparities seen before the pandemic are magnified during this crisis.   

Hat’s off to everyone who is “pivoting” out of dedication and concern for the most vulnerable folks in our communities, and recognition that resilience is built out of adversity!