Our Specialist AOD Family Services program Kids in Focus (KIF) provides intensive outreach support for families who have multiple and complex needs, as well as Child Protection involvement. Under normal times, most of our work is home based. During COVID-19 restrictions, staff have limited their face-to-face contact and come up with interactive ways to keep parents and children engaged in the program.
Some parents are at a disadvantage as far as accessing online services, and for many it is simply beyond their reach to pay for home internet. You will often have a parent whose phone is the only way for the children to continue not only their education, but the therapeutic services the children are engaged with. Further, they are always running out of data. For parents whose children are in Out of Home Care, time together has been either over the phone or using the phone to have some Zoom access. As you can imagine for many parents with younger children, this has been an extremely difficult time, and if you have a baby, it is impossible. It’s hard for many of our families to show the affection they want, without being able to give each other a hug.
To keep families engaged and to make it fun for both adults and children, our clinicians have been coming up with some interactive activities to run over Zoom. The most successful of these online groups has been our gardening, nutrition and cooking group. This involved purchasing and then distributing small clay pots, paints and brushes to decorate the pots, potting mix, herbs and then a laminated recipe sheet utilising the herbs.
The Zoom activity meant that parents and children would need to do the activity together, painting the pots, re-potting the herbs and then making the simple 3-ingredient, 3-step recipes. The feedback was fantastic and facilitating a fun activity that brings parent and child together helps to build and strengthen their relationship through memory making. Parents report that their decorated herb pots take pride of place at the front entrance of their homes. Our families were also lucky to receive food parcels and many essential items from Planet Shakers Church, which has made a big difference during these very difficult days.