When COVID-19 took hold in the country, businesses and service providers were forced to quickly assimilate operations. While our Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) network has evolved over the years, we continued making changes during the past year as we shifted activities online to meet the needs of CBCAP members by providing resources, offering network training events, and monthly professional development webinars for participating agencies.
But we were not alone in changing processes and turning to online services throughout the pandemic. From transitioning meeting formats to keeping staff members connected, the pandemic created new challenges for providers everywhere, and Beginnings, Inc. was not immune to the need to alter its service model.
Beginnings, Inc. is a Cambria County-based provider that focuses on programs and services that strengthen and empower children and families. Our connection with Beginnings, Inc. started many years ago when the organization’s staff participated in the Front Porch Project training. We have since partnered for a mural project and the Families in Recovery program and Beginnings, Inc. is now a member of the CBCAP Program network.
At the onset of the pandemic, Executive Director Paula Eppley-Newman was concerned about keeping everyone’s spirits up and maintaining motivation while helping people find time for self-care. Since all employees had laptops, they found that implementing Slack, an online communication platform, helped keep staff connected and actively communicating. They also thought through how to approach their transition to telehealth services.
“We saw an increase in success because parents were more invested and took the time to understand,” said Paula Eppley-Newman. “Telehealth services will [now] always be an option – the beauty is that the child doesn’t have to miss services if they can’t be there in person.”
Beginnings’ work and innovation did not stop throughout the pandemic. In the midst of everything, Beginnings partnered with four other organizations to enhance training, support, and education needs throughout the broader community. They were able to conduct activities such as training community health workers, providing home assessment needs of pregnant women on Medicare or Medicaid, and working with truant children in the Johnstown School District.
Another collective initiative is the result of several providers in the region identifying that there was a lack of outdoor opportunities. A group of service providers came together and formed the Commission on Hope to assess and address the gaps in services impacting the community, and the Trinity Farms Center for Healing emerged as an outlet for providing holistic support. The volunteer and donation-driven effort provides an outdoor environment to assist recovery and healing.
“Being on the farm is healing, and it strengthens connections,” said Eppley-Newman. “It’s not a Beginnings program, but it’s brought the community together. “
Beginnings has found a way to make the best of everything through the tough times of the past year and is poised to continue building on its 70 years of service to the community.
“We are coming out of the pandemic as a stronger unit,” said Eppley-Newman.
PFSA is proud to work alongside CBCAP agencies like Beginnings, Inc. To learn more about PFSA’s CBCAP Program and network of participating agencies, please visit https://pafsa.org/cbcap-program/.