How are the Children at the Rice Center? An update:
It was a perfect fall Halloween afternoon when the staff at the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Child & Family Center hosted a “Trunk or Treat” event for the children.
“It’s been a hard few months for the children living at the Rice Center, and we wanted do something fun to celebrate Halloween, since there wasn’t going to be trick or treating,” said Will Sackley, Clinical Supervisor at Rice. “The staff really stepped up to make it a fun, safe party for the children.”
On the day and night of Halloween, staff dressed up in costume and hosted the “Trunk or Treat” event in the Rice Center parking lot. The children were able to pick up candy at different staff’s cars, decorate pumpkins, eat caramel apples and enjoy being a kid on Halloween.
The Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Child & Family Center provides a therapeutic setting for children in the foster care system, between the ages of 6 to 14, who have severe mental health and behavioral challenges. With Covid-19 spreading, addressing these mental health and behavioral challenges have become more difficult.
“The children at the Rice Center are used to a full and robust schedule of therapies, school, group outings to the zoo, time spent with their families, and interaction with their friends who live at Rice or in the community,” said Keith Polan, Associate Vice President of Child Welfare at Children’s Home & Aid. “The COVID-measures that began on March 13th put a hold on everything we believe in: community, routine, and face to face relationships. All of sudden, that came to a screeching halt and we all had to adjust on the fly.”
The end goal for the children at Rice Center is to get them into a family setting with the tools necessary to navigate life including skills such as relationship building. With the pandemic, there is an uncertainty of when these kids will see their friends and family but most importantly, they are unsure of what is to come next. Dr. Will Sackley is the clinical supervisor at the Rice Center.
“Covid-19 has greatly increased the level of stress and dysregulation among our kids,” Dr. Sackley said, “Some have lost a lot of hope of where they are going to go next, and in some cases that has impacted their progress toward healing.”
To meet the challenge, the Rice staff has stepped up in amazing ways, pivoting to provide e-learning to the children ages 7-14 living in the building. (The plan is for the Rice on-site school to reopen in November, depending on the school district’s decision.) Most of the children have families who are very much involved in their lives, and so visits moved from weekends at home to Zoom calls. Therapists adjusted how they worked with the children to ensure that everyone remained safe.
In short, while Covid-19 has undoubtedly changed and impacted the kids at the Rice Center in various ways, the virus hasn’t stopped the staff from continuing to improve the lives of these children.
“The process of adapting has formed a different type of community that I have ever experienced,” Dr. Sackley said. “The spirit of perseverance and resilience among staff and kids and those opportunities when we can come together as a community have been amazing.”
Covid-19 has hit a freeze button on all our lives, but thanks to committed Rice Center staff and generous donors like you, the children still manage to experience some semblance of normalcy.
These creative ways of engaging our children at the Rice Center are not possible without donor support. The ability to host trunk or treat activities and to decorate pumpkins is 100% funded by our donors. Our therapeutic yoga and creative arts programming is donor-supported. And generous donors have contributed nearly $100,000 to create a trauma-informed Occupational Therapy program, which will start later this year.
Thank you for giving us the chance to bring normalcy and joy for the children this Halloween and throughout their stay at the Rice Center. Your efforts have made a huge difference.