Supporting Parents during the Pandemic

Today, we’ve featured Unleash the Brilliance, a partner in the Trauma Informed Restorative Practices (TIRP) Village, to hear how they’ve supported TIRP Village scholar’s parents and families during the pandemic through community-based outreach support and resources. This is the second blog in an ongoing series that shines light on the importance of mental and emotional health during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to amplify our partner’s critical work and connect our community to additional emotional and mental health tools and resources through Community Well-Being, an initiative led by Best Starts.

Unleash the Brilliance Parent Engagement

Since March, parents have been navigating constant shifts while trying their best to ensure that their children are as safe, happy, healthy, and thriving as possible during the lockdown. From changing childcare regulations to wholehearted attempts at balancing work and at-home-zoom-school, we can collectively agree that it’s been challenging, trying, and downright frustrating. Many parents are experiencing burnout and fatigue without enough time, energy, or financial resources to care for themselves as the boundaries between work, home, school, and daycare dissipate. These challenges are exacerbated for historically underserved and marginalized families who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

While this is a trying time for children, youth, and parents, families are resilient and actively rewiring their sense of “normalcy.” Alongside them are our community partners, who are working hard and hand-in-hand with parents across King County to ensure that our children and youth are cared for and heard – through the pandemic and into the future.

Best Starts’ Trauma-Informed and Restorative Practices – widely known as the “TIRP Village” – is a collective partnership actively supporting parents and families during the pandemic.

We see our scholars experiencing liberation and healing from systemic racism by living into their true cultural identity, brilliance, and purpose.

The TIRP Village Collective Vision Statement

The TIRP Village has evolved since 2018, working across 55 schools in 10 school districts to confront systemic and racial trauma in our classrooms and spaces where our youth learn. The TIRP Village consist of  30 partners within the Trauma-Informed and Restorative Practices strategy who are intentionally working together as a community and a collective model. By bringing everyone to the table — students, parents, teachers, school districts, community-based organizations, and local government — TIRP recognizes the holistic lived experiences of our children and youth and acknowledges that it takes a village to help them succeed.

Strengthening the holistic network

At its core, TIRP Village is a community rooted in partnership and racial equity. Yolanda McGhee, the TIRP Program Manager, says, “the TIRP village helps scholars see what is right with them, discover their inner-genius, dismantle the lies that have been told about who they are and support their liberation and healing.”

With a trauma-informed or restorative approach, teachers and staff focus on creating welcoming environments that allow students to bring their whole selves to the classroom: their unique strengths, social and emotional needs, and lived experiences. By shifting away from punitive and exclusionary discipline and rigid classroom structures, the TIRP Village actively addresses and confronts systemic trauma and structural racism through community-driven solutions. “By opening up the dialogue about racial, historical, systemic and generational trauma our youth and communities hold, we are able to counter and re-write the narrative to tell our own story, while we recognize all the geniuses in the classroom” Yolanda says.

Through the pandemic, children and parents have shown one of many characteristics that make up their inner genius – deep resiliency and the ability to work together though challenging times. Building off their strength, Unleash the Brilliance (UTB), a TIRP Village partner, recognized that the TIRP Village could intentionally support families by providing additional outreach support and resources for parents.

One community-driven resource that Unleash the Brilliance designed was a Parent Training Workbook to help make the gears mesh smoothly at home. As families navigate remote learning, this 12-page workbook — filled with instructional videos, a reflective worksheet, a summary of the key points and a list of best practices — is an additional tool parents can access to help their children engage with school and connect with their family during an uncertain and emotionally turbulent time.

Terrell Dorsey, Unleash the Brilliance’s Executive Director, emphasizes, “we’re not trying to point fingers and make any parent feel ashamed, this is just an extra tool kit in the toolbelt to apply when it’s necessary.”

Terrell recounts a story from the past year that underscores the importance of building a collective web based on trust and relationships – one of the cornerstones of the TIRP Village community.

“Early this morning, a single mom called us for help as she was in serious conflict with her daughter – essentially – was near the threshold of domestic violence and police intervention. I dropped what I was doing and left my office to visit their home to help deescalate the tension. During our fifteen-minute visit, mom gave me permission to take her daughter to our Kent office for continued de-escalation and mentoring. Later in the day, the daughter and mom were reunited.”

Afterwards, the mom texted Terrell, telling him, “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Isis came in laughing and joking with her siblings and me and now she is in bed. Most people say they are there and care about these kids but when things get tough, I had nobody to turn to but you. I want to thank you for your outreach services.”

In this moment, the mom paused long enough to remember a key learning from the Unleash the Brilliance training on Saturday – to call for support whenever she needs. With the TIRP Village family there for her, she remembered that she could self-advocate and ask for help to deescalate this situation with her daughter.

Our families have shown collective strength in the face of hardship, and with Unleash the Brilliance and TIRP Village’s network of support, our scholars and parents continue to adapt and flourish even during the pandemic.

Scholars engaging in socially distanced activities during the pandemic

The Community Well-Being group, an initiative led by Best Starts for Kids, seeks to promote emotional health in our communities and in the County’s COVID19 response​ and center BIPOC individuals and communities who are most impacted by the intersection of racism and the pandemic. On the Community Well-Being website, you’ll find ways to connect with people who want to help including how to…

  • Talk to someone right now
  • Get help finding a counselor
  • Change the conversation on mental health
  • Connect to the Community Health Access Program (CHAP) for more community resources
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