/ April 13, 2021

Social Emotional Learning: Listening, not rushing in

Two Early Childhood Social Workers in Brooklyn have been doing all they can to help New Yorkers during the coronavirus pandemic, including shifting from supporting teachers and leaders at their school sites to providing remote support and sharing resources to help families and staff manage grief, loss, and trauma.

When schools closed and Laura Dee saw that families were losing loved ones, she knew her experience working in hospice could help. She used her expertise to help her Social Worker colleagues understand how to best support people who are grieving.

“Laura has helped us understand how to listen and not rush in. Social workers tend to have a ‘righting reflex,’ meaning they want to have an answer right away,” said Virginia Cortes, Mental Health and Wellness Administrator. “But Laura showed us how to really sit with a person who’s suffering – to give someone the freedom to express what’s happening – as uncomfortable as that is.”

During the pandemic, Ms. Roberts remained a steadfast support for families, offering a listening ear to even the most difficult stories. “She is someone who will say to you, ‘you can put it all here, and it’s okay,” said Ms. Cortes.

Together, Ms. Dee and Ms. Roberts helped many families in Brooklyn cope during the difficult months of the pandemic.

“During COVID-19, our Social Workers have supported with such humanity, such heart, such emotion,” Cortes said. “They keep saying, what can I do to help?”

From Ms. Roberts:
“I have always been drawn to social work because I enjoy working closely with people to support them in discovering new and innovative ways to resolve or cope with life challenges. The resilience in others is what keeps me going.”

From Ms. Dee:
“Being a social worker allows me the unique privilege of hearing other people’s stories and provides me with the opportunity to support individuals, children/families and systems in achieving their goals. My belief that everyone needs someone on their side and that one person can truly make a difference is what keeps me going.”

Community mental health program: Social Emotional Learning

Social, emotional, and behavioral regulation skills are foundational for learning and well-being. Through a partnership between ThriveNYC and the Department of Education, Pre-K and 3-K programs across New York City provide social-emotional learning support to students, families, program leaders and teaching teams. Over 3,000 schoolteachers or program staff participated in at least one professional learning through this program since the program launched in 2016. And, an additional 3,000 parents and caregivers have attended family workshops to learn social emotional development practices since 2016. Learn more about the program and its impact here.