On March 28, Mayor G.T. Bynam issued a “shelter in place” order for Tulsans to stop the spread of COVID-19. The week prior, Family & Children’s Services (F&CS) had already transitioned most programs to remote services including telephonic and teletherapy.
For F&CS’s Women in Recovery (WIR), an alternative to incarceration program, eliminating face-to-face contact for outpatient treatment and programming took some ingenuity. Typically, WIR participants have strict weekly structured agendas that include addiction and trauma treatment, parent education, job readiness training, GED and other education groups and recovery support.
The WIR staff quickly created multiple interventions and services, both remote and with social distancing, to make sure that WIR participants and their children continued to receive the same high level of quality and professional standards in services, even during COVID-19. These include individual and group therapy, case management employment and education assistance and online education classes, to name a few.
Thanks, to generous foundations, a highly flexible and professional WIR staff, and women motivated to change their lives, WIR Remote is a success.
Breakdown of WIR's Remote Microcosm
- TECHNOLOGY: 100 iPads are being used to continue face-to-face telehealth and telemedicine services. This structure helps maintain programming, accountability and routine.
- TELEHEALTH: F&CS WIR therapists and/or case managers are only a call away. Through telehealth, the WIR treatment team provides therapeutic, rehabilitative and educational services to all WIR participants. In addition, women are being taught how to manage their emotions, tolerate distress and practice flexibility during the pandemic.
- SUPPORTING RECOVERY: To maintain accountability to our criminal justice system and support ongoing recovery, WIR provides remote home visits and has partnered with a mobile drug testing unit.
- BASIC NEEDS: Each week, WIR’s pop-up mobile unit and R&G’s Food Truck distribute essential items to WIR housing units.
- HEALTH AND WELLNESS: Following all CDC recommendations, WIR continues social distancing and provides gloves and masks participants.
- VIRTUAL COOKING CLASSES: Each week, iPads are loaded with new culinary videos from Chef Val, encouraging women to learn new recipes.
- SUPPORTING CHILDREN: Women with children are being supported with healthy family practices! WIR’s art therapist developed fun parent-child activities that are easily accessed online. Or families can have a family therapy session through telehealth. WIR continues to communicate regularly with judges, attorneys, district attorneys and supervision partners.
- EMPLOYMENT EDUCATION: WIR staff continue to work remotely helping participants with tax-filing, employment education and supporting those who have experienced job loss or reduced work hours.
- TOKEN ECONOMY: WIR-Exchange reinforces positive behaviors through the distribution of virtual tokens which can be exchanged for a variety of requested items.
- MINDFULNESS: All of our iPads have yoga, mindfulness and wellness apps to promote health and wellbeing.
- VOLUNTEERS: WIR volunteers continue to help remotely through Zoom, leading GED classes, mentoring and supporting recovery.
- CONTINUING CARE: WIR’s continuing care team still provides all services to program graduates. Just launched is WIR’s virtual mentorship program where graduates are matched with current participants to provide support and encouragement.
- WOMEN’S JUSTICE TEAM: F&Cs’s Women’s Justice Team continues to serve justice-involved women through a jail-based support system. Services include parenting, caregiver and family support and extensive re-entry help for women transitioning from jail to the community.