May 12 2020

Burlington Youth and Family Service a Resource for Those in Need

By: Rich Hosford

Despite town offices being closed and social distancing being employed the people at Burlington Youth and Family Services continue to provide much-needed services to the community. 

“It impacted things, it was an adjustment in the beginning,” said BYSF Executive Director Christine Shruhan. 

According to the town website, Burlington Youth and Family Services (BYFS) has as its goal and mandate to provide a range of services designed to improve the quality of life for Burlington families with children, adolescents and young adults. In addition, BYFS, as one of the town agencies that handles human services problems, endeavors to collect and provide information useful to all townspeople about available local and area nonprofit and social service resources.

Shruhan said that one big adjustment has been not being able to provide counseling to families in person. 

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to do telemedicine and continue counseling with individuals and families with HIPAA compliant telehealth,” she explained. “Some people prefer doing things over the phone. At first we had some concerns about whether we would be able to meet peoples’ needs but we have been able to do some good work.”

Shruhan said that during this pandemic they have noticed an increase in people dealing with anxiety. 

“Sometimes parents are calling and saying they have stress,” she said. “We help them do brainstorming about how they can take a break in their house, which isn’t easy to do. It’s not the ideal way to decompress before COVID but now that it is here it is how to do it.” 

“We’ve also seen more anxiety in kids and parents wanting to know how to deal with that,” she continued. “We try to help them over the phone or internet and that has been very helpful.”

Along with counseling, BYFS also offers services that include helping people navigate town, state and federal forms and connecting with needed assistance. This includes helping people enroll for unemployment, getting state funding to pay utilities and connecting with charity organizations like People Helping People and the Salvation Army. 

“Some of it is just letting people know they can’t be evicted and that utilities cannot be shut off,” she said. “For some of these folks, they’re waiting for unemployment to kick in so we’re helping get what they need in the interim.”

She said her staff has been receiving a good number of calls for assistance but predicts the need will become greater over time as more businesses are hit with the long-term impacts of the pandemic. 

“I see more of that need in a few months,” she said. “For right now it is helping to hold people over. We’re going to see an uptick as time goes on. People can rally in the short term but this is not something that will go away soon so we have to figure out how we can prepare now so it’s not as bad in the long run. 

Finally, Shruhan encouraged anyone in need of assistance or counseling to get in touch.  

“We are a resource so call or email,” she said. “I might take a little longer than we’d like but it will happen, we are still here for residents. Both now, and down the road when it might get more complicated or get complicated in different ways. We’ll continue to find ways to help.”

BYFS can be reached by phone at (781) 270-1961 or by email at byfs@burlington.org. You can also find more information on their website.

 

 
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