WISE Program Still Helping Children and Families

Children’s Aid and Family Services’ WISE Families Program is an evidence-based program that was developed by Dr. Barbara Bonner and her colleagues at Oklahoma University’s Center for Child Abuse and Neglect to help families with children ages 8 – 15 who have problems with sexual boundaries. It provides assessment, education, treatment and prevention to both the parents and the children, and has a 98% success rate. Families are in treatment for approximately 12 – 16 weeks and meet at our office. With the implementation of stay at home orders throughout New Jersey, we have had to transition this program online. We asked Rasheda Ali, WISE Families Program Clinician to share an update on the program in the following Q&A.

What changes have you made in order to continue providing the WISE program?

Clinicians are utilizing Ring Central app to contact clients via telephone or text messaging to confirm sessions. We are also emailing families to receive updates. Clients and clinicians are utilizing Zoom app for individual/family/caregiver group on a weekly basis. We are also using it for team meetings. We are working towards conducting intakes through Zoom as well.

What are the challenges of providing the program during this crisis?

Some caregivers are not as familiar with technology and may not feel as comfortable with telehealth services. Clinicians are contacting these families through telephone on a weekly basis. Another caregiver participating in group has had difficulty joining the Zoom meetings through her phone. Some families are facing stressors such as illnesses and home schooling process for their children and has led to families missing sessions and having to reschedule. Clients may have difficulty sitting in front of a screen for the length of the session and can be easily distracted in the home environment as opposed to an office space. 

What are the benefits? 

The benefits are that clinicians and clients have a bit more flexibility when scheduling sessions due to being home. Clients not having to commute to sessions has substantially reduced stress of transportation on their families and reduced lateness.

How have the clients adapted to the transition? 

One caregiver stated she is comfortable utilizing the Zoom app and transitioning to this method has increased her participation in the program. Scheduling sessions remotely is more convenient given the client’s online school/bedtime routine.