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At Developmental Pathways, each team has adapted a bit differently to continue serving people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities during the global COVID-19 pandemic. This week, we’re spotlighting our Community Outreach department’s response to the new COVID working conditions.

Community Outreach’s “new normal” entails several online check-in chats throughout the week, both in small groups and with the whole department. They discuss self-care, mental health, and encourage each other to reach out and connect. To bring smiles to each other, staffers share gifs and memes, take breaks together, and catch up about what’s new. The team also carves out intentional time together by meeting weekly for an online “Lunch & Chat” session. 

Not to be missed due to working from home, Community Outreach celebrated Admin Professionals Day on April 22 by spotlighting the Admin staff with friendly quizzes about personal preferences and favorite things. Later during the summer, the team welcomed a new staff member by hosting a virtual happy hour with games and a lot of laughs. 

The Community Outreach team continues to develop creative solutions to support families and each other, such as:

  • At the onset of COVID-19, the Projects team immediately began connecting with providers and families about virtual services. 
  • As typical community resources ceased due to COVID, the DP e-Newsletter needed to pivot. Within a week, the team reformatted the e-Newsletter to focus on sharing online resources.
  • With new information coming in every day, to stay organized, the team created an internal COVID resources page for all DP staff. 
  • When working from home and missing brainstorming sessions in the office, the team jumped on the online chat to flush out ideas and gather feedback. 

Perhaps the most exciting change in the Community Outreach team during COVID has been providing financial relief to families in need due to COVID-related circumstances. They adjusted department spending and amended the allocation process and guidelines to use funds from the existing budget for this effort. Since March, the department has given more than $350,000 directly to support individuals and families with COVID-related needs. Many thanks to this team’s dedicated work in support of individuals and their families living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and delays.

Also in this series, did you read about how our EI department quickly and creatively developed a plan for virtual evaluations?