Since opening in 2014, A Kidz Clinic has provided comprehensive, quality integrated healthcare services to children aged 0 through 21. Now, the staff is extending its services for parents through support groups as families navigate the new landscape caused by COVID-19.
The new parenting support groups are available online Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at noon. During the group meet ups, mental health professionals in Delta County School District and A Kidz Clinic facilitate the sessions to help parents navigate student stay-at-home learning and emotional wellness. A Kidz Clinic is the school-based health center for Delta County and works closely with the schools.
Stacee Delisle, executive director of A Kidz Clinic, said the groups will remain online to maintain social-distancing protocols.
“I received an email from one of the school counselors, who was trying to help a parent who is struggling with all things related to the closing of the schools and now schooling from home,” Delisle said. “We shared some general coping skills and resources, but then created this group in response to that request and knowing that this parent wasn’t alone in her struggles.”
The first session was held on April 21.
“We had a great first group and are hoping that more parents will join us as we want to know they are not alone and that we are here to support them, and that we are their biggest cheerleaders as they navigate these new and uncertain times,” she said.
DCSD Superintendent Caryn Gibson said she is proud the district has a health clinic as wellness is important to learning.
“The school district and the clinic have identified a need to support parents in these uncertain times,” Gibson said. “Teaching and learning at home are difficult for a variety of reasons. Distance learning or online learning cannot be as effective if parents or students are not emotionally well and safe. Fostering healthy emotional wellness is essential to learning and reducing the extra pressure on the parent-child relationship."
After collaborating to organize support groups, Delisle said they got the word out to families through social media and the schools.
“So we decided to take quick action and throw together a support group,” she said. "As a school-based health center, we work closely with the schools so we partnered with the behavioral health staff at Delta High School to provide these support groups."
The support groups are not limited to Delta County residents as A Kidz Clinic welcomes members from other communities and school districts.
While the clinic typically focuses on providing youth with mental, physical and social support, extending support to parents following the coronavirus outbreak seemed natural.
“Providing quality services for kids is a part of our mission, so that they are able to be healthy and in school learning,” Delisle said. “So it seems like a natural fit for us to find new and creative ways to do that during these uncertain times.”
Throughout the stay-at-home orders and school closures, Delisle said the staff have spoken with families about the difficulty of remote learning.
Knowing the new challenges families are facing, Gibson said the district appreciates the efforts of the medical professionals at the clinic.
“A Kidz Clinic helps the school district build quality trusting relationships with our families,” she said. “We try to support our students and families in multiple ways."
Gibson added the partnership between the district, A Kidz Clinic and the behavioral health staff is one way they reassure families they are not alone.
“The goal of offering parent support through A Kidz Clinic is to provide support, resources, coping skills and problem-solving to help minimize any conflict during these times,” Gibson said. “It is very important parents know that they are not alone and we want to support them in multiple ways.”
Delisle said the support groups provide a safe environment for parents to connect with others and share their experiences, so everyone can learn and continue to best support their children.
“It’s really about connecting parents and building relationships. We are trying to normalize their experiences and provide a safe place to vent or express their experiences in a safe place with people going through the same thing and a place where there is no judgement,” she said.
During the support groups, Delisle said the focus is on realistic expectations, letting go, helping your kids grieve the changes and losing things like summer sports camps. They are also discussing coping skills, which include how to recognize depression and anxiety, adjusting to change, working on a new normal, ways to stay emotionally well and ways for parents to do their best with schooling from home. They plan to allow parents who have been home-schooling for a while to offer guidance, support and ideas.
To register and receive the link for the online meeting, visit bit.ly/351iyqK.
Lauren Brant is a staff writer and digital content coordinator for the Montrose Daily Press.