Sitting on opposite sides of a window, a young boy tells Alana about his day while drawing a picture in his ‘My Memories’ book.
It’s an unusual setting for a conversation, but one that allows Alana to continue building their relationship, all while keeping 1.5 metres apart.
Alana is a caseworker for Wesley Brighter Futures, a program which builds stronger families, working alongside them to maintain their children’s safety, welfare and wellbeing.
Since the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Alana has reinvented the way she communicates and connects with the families and children she supports, all while maintaining safe social distancing.
“We’re having those conversations with the kids explaining why they can’t sit right next to us and colour in or play a game with them like we normally would,” Alana said.
For many families, Alana connects with them over video chat. But for one family, Alana was invited meet face-to-face, just in a different format. When Alana first arrived at this family’s home, she stood at the mailbox, waved to them and had a conversation from afar as the family stood on their balcony.
But after a few minutes, Alana was invited to the balcony to talk through their window. As she sat on the balcony, together Alana and this family’s oldest child continued to work through his ‘My Memories’ book – just as they normally would.
“The book explains to the child why we’re there, so they can draw pictures about their understanding of why we’re in the home,” Alana explained.
Towards the end of the visit, Alana was welcomed inside their house where they sat on opposite sides of the loungeroom.
“It certainly has changed how we do things, but hopefully not too much what we’re doing,” Alana said.
“We’re still having those conversations about keeping their kids safe and building their capacity to keep their kids safe with whatever life throws at them.”
Over the last six months Alana has been supporting this family’s children with increasing their school attendance and involvement with school activities.
“This mum has made a massive improvement,” Alana said. “They’ve being really engaged in all their school activities which has been really positive for them.”
During this unusual season of COVID-19, Alana is continuing to support this family with their children’s education, helping them transition to home schooling.
“We’re dealing with a whole lot of anxiety from parents about schoolwork or what to do with their kids during the day,” she explained.
“We’re helping them build capacity to get through this so that everyone can come out the other side.”