Bethany Christian Services Keeps Parents Connected During Pandemic
By Lindsey Snow, Regional Technical Assistant
2020’s pandemic challenges have made way for creative solutions to keep agencies, children and parents connected. One example of pandemic-inspired innovation is Bethany Christian Services’ move to virtual support groups, which they began to offer in May 2020 when it appeared that COVID would indefinitely extend restrictions on in-person meetings.
Christina Edwards, MSW, LSW, clinical supervisor at Bethany Christian Services of Western PA, shared that while Bethany had considered providing virtual support groups for a while, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that pushed the agency to make the move. “We recognized that even in the midst of COVID, there was still a need for support,” she said. Through virtual group meetings, families have been able to stay connected and supported by their peers and affiliate workers while also staying safe, spending more time with one another and avoiding travel for an in-person meeting.
Although participation is lower than their in-person support groups, the most well-attended virtual group is the Parent Support Group, which includes families that have adopted through the child welfare system, privately, internationally or have provided permanent legal custody. They also offer virtual groups for children and youth involved in the child welfare system.
Although the ultimate hope is to eventually begin meeting again in person, Christina believes “virtual options are here to stay.” More information about support groups and a support group listing can be accessed on this site.
Lindsey Snow is a SWAN regional technical assistant based in western Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the SWAN prime contractor, Lindsey worked within the network as a permanency service coordinator for over ten years. Lindsey is always amazed by the creativity of workers throughout SWAN and is honored to help share their success stories.