Family Support Services going online – Interview with Joan Lauricella – Family Support Services worker

27 January 2021


1. Welcome Joan, can you tell me about your role?

I am a Family Support Worker, which means I provide parenting support and information to parents. I do this either by meeting with the parents individually or through parenting groups and seminars that I run. I offer a range of groups to help parents increase their confidence in parenting and understand and handle their children’s behaviour.

I can assist families with responding to a range of issues including:

  • Tantrums
  • Bedtime problems
  • Mealtime difficulties
  • Children not following instructions
  • Aggression towards parents, siblings and others
  • Developing a child’s emotional intelligence
  • Managing a child’s anxiety

2. Can you tell me what impact COVID-19 has had on your ability to provide support to families?

Firstly we were advised by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that our procedures needed to be to keep our staff, clients and community safe from coronavirus. I began to have some clients reach out to me wanting support, so I began to work closely with management to devise alternatives to be able to provide support to families during this difficult time.

“When we were told to go into lockdown, I was concerned with what impact all the uncertainty and change was going to have on my children. All of a sudden they were having to learn from home for school, they are being told they can’t see their friends apart from on a screen, and even that they are only allowed outside for 1 hour a day. I am thankful that I can reach out and still access parenting support services through Joan. It’s made all the difference”.

I am pleased to report that we were able to produce and make available a series of parenting support videos on a range of topics that seemed appropriate such as how to talk to children who are experiencing anxiety. These videos are great for parents who might not be able to attend our sessions due to other commitments, they can access valuable information at a time that suits them.

We also started offering online webinars in place of our in-person seminars. At first, we needed to overcome a few technical and logistical issues. because it’s very different presenting to a room full of parents where I can run engagement activities and people can openly ask questions to a screen full of people in tiny squares. We tried our first parenting support webinar and it was a success, so we continued to offer a range of topics in this format.

Feedback has been great. Some parents even prefer the online format as they don’t need to arrange sitters and travel, it’s more convenient.

“I thoroughly enjoyed Joan’s parenting webinar, I learnt some great practical tips and tricks, but more than anything it gave me insight to view my situation from a different perspective, all from the comfort of my lounge room”.

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