Family Connect Helps to Ease Challenges for Staff, Students and Parents During COVID-19

Categories: Agency News
Family Connect 2020

ADAPT’s Family Connect Program offers free workshops, support services and educational resources for New York City parents and families of children with disabilities. Families are encouraged to learn, explore resources, and participate in improving outcomes for children with disabilities. Supports from the department include training workshops on various topics that are available in English and Spanish, as well as helping to build community connections by linking parents and families to resource libraries, demonstration centers and clinical programs. Their incentive is to empower children with disabilities by providing necessary tools, supports and assistive technology to help them to reach their true potential. Family Connect also provides insights into industry changes and technological advancements. They advocate for children with disabilities while providing guidance and support to parents and family members who may not otherwise know about important resources available that can make a tremendous impact on developing skills and reaching goals.

The resources and supports provided by the group have proven to be invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic. When schools were mandated to close, Family Connect immediately started brainstorming on ways to continue to deliver vital supports for children, families and staff of ADAPT Community Network during this time of immense change and disruption of regular routines. Luckily, ADAPT was able to leverage consulting services through our established partnerships with NYU and Ramapo for Children.

Dr. Rebecca Doggett, a Clinical Assistant Professor with the Department of Child and Adolescent Physiatry at NYU Langone’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital had successfully led workshops for families and professionals at ADAPT. Her specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and her extensive knowledge of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) which is a natural behavior intervention was incredibly helpful for ADAPT’s teachers. Dr. Doggett conducts diagnostic evaluations and provides individual and group treatments for children, adolescents, and young adults with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Through her support, expertise and guidance, she helped teachers navigate the quick change from in-person instruction to virtual education for special needs preschool students.

Maria Claudia Florez, Director of Education Program Services who oversees Family Connect stated, “Dr. Doggett is a wonderful resource for our teachers, assistant teachers and aides in supporting our children with activities and behaviors such as sitting and attending, language, academics and social skills. Dr. Doggett consults with our staff and our parents, coaches them in developing strategies through a virtual format, targeting and assessing IEP goals and supporting parents to facilitate remote learning.” Through Dr. Doggett’s continued support, ADAPT was able to transition to an online platform and education staff utilized new tools, technology and engagement techniques to keep children interested in learning and participating in lessons while at home.

ADAPT’s Education Staff also conferred with Ramapo for Children to seek guidance and determine the best way to proceed during these unprecedented times. Sheri Klugman from Ramapo facilitated group conversations and coaching sessions which have been indispensable for ADAPT’s committed workforce. Educators found innovative solutions to uphold their priority of ensuring all of the student’s goals were being met.

“The experience that I have had with Ramapo has been very beneficial to the parents and staff. The parent workshops focused on the much needed support that parents with special needs children could not get by directing them to resources in the areas of daily activities, emotional stress of having a special needs child and the stress of the pandemic,” stated Renata Clement, Director of Education Program Services at ADAPT’s William O’Connor School (Midwood?). “The teachers, through the coaching of Ramapo, were allowed to discuss the emotional toil of having to deal with the pandemic and the sudden change of remote learning and not being with their students. Ramapo’s platform for coaching gives the participants a sense of comfort, support and strategies.”

Maria Claudia Florez states, “As we all manage these stressful times, Family Connect in conjunction with Education Services is proud of our ADAPT staff as they continue to maintain a quality level of support to the children and the parents to whom we provide services.” For more information about resources and workshops please email familyconnect@adaptcommunitynetwork.org.

Please keep an eye out for ADAPT’s Annual Family Connect Summit will take place remotely this year through video conferencing. It will feature workshops on a variety of topics that affect families of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as the professionals who work with them.