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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS

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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
Chief Operating Officer

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Samantha Matlin, PhD
Vice President of Learning & Community Impact

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Caitlin O'Brien, MPH
Director of Learning & Community Impact

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Joe Pyle, MA

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Tyrone Quarterman, BA, MPH Candidate
Graduate Student

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Vivian Figueredo, MPA

Georgia Kioukis, PhD

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Turning Points For Children Prioritizes Staff Wellness

Jun 12, 2020

Working with families involved with child welfare services – often against their will – is among the most stressful jobs in the human services field. Trauma, both vicarious and actual, infuses almost all interactions and is aggravated by high caseloads and a system that often prioritizes compliance over quality. 

With the onset of the coronavirus shutdown, Turning Points recognized that our employees would face even more challenging situations as they sought to maintain their relationships virtually with children and families.

Under the leadership of our Director of Professional Development and Organizational Culture, we mobilized quickly to respond to the new realities both our workers and our participants faced. Among our responses was to schedule a weekly virtual opportunity for staff to come together for a voluntary “peer support and coffee hour,” where they have a safe space to share their self-care strategies, feelings and fears with each other and provide mutual support. We identified and trained a Rapid Response Team comprised of employees from across the organization to provide peer support to staff members using Psychological First Aid; scheduled weekly webinars and activities to encourage self-care, with topics such as Self-Care During a Global Pandemic, How to Talk to Children about the Pandemic, and Managing Changes and Transitions. We also facilitated an employee book club to focus on issues related to vicarious trauma and self-care; the first book is Bessel van der Kolk’s bestseller about trauma called The Body Keeps the Score. We’ve also hosted virtual arts and crafts workshop for employees and their families, as well as Virtual Town Halls to keep our 700+ staff members fully informed about pandemic-related issues of concern, including plans for returning to work at the appropriate time.

Finally, we contracted with Courdea (formerly Menergy) to provide individual therapy for staff needing more individualized support and attention. Together with spontaneous email celebrations and virtual group activities inspired by staff members themselves, we believe our staff and participants have adapted well to the new realities of work in a time of crisis.

David Fair is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Turning Points For Children, which brings social and health services to vulnerable people. Their work is  built on the foundations of wellness, safety, diversity and collaboration. And they believe in the power of resilience and possibility.

Turning Points for Children recently received a staff self-wellness grant from the Scattergood Foundation as part of our first steps in implementing our Cope. Recover. Grow Model for responding to the needs of organizations and communities in these unprecedented times.