Category: ConnectATX

Partner spotlight: WIC innovates to safely serve our community during COVID-19 and beyond

Blog contributions by: Diana Flores, WIC Community Engagement Coordinator and Annette Phinney, Public Health Division Manager Our Success By 6 Coalition is a collective of strong partnerships in the Greater Austin area serving our community. We have one holistic mission to ensure all kids are happy, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and beyond.  The work of all of our partners feeds into our 4-pillar approach of striving for: high-quality care and education, healthy beginnings, supported families, and safe and stimulating communities. One of these amazing partners with boots on the ground in ATX is The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly known as WIC. You’ve probably heard about the work WIC does, but how much do you really know? Our team did a Q&A session with the local Austin Public Health WIC team to learn more about how they are pivoting services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tell us about WIC and which areas of Greater Austin are being served. WIC is a nutrition program for pregnant, breastfeeding people and families with children younger than five. WIC provides: nutrition education and counseling nutritious foods breastfeeding support referrals to healthcare and social-service providers Our local WIC agency serves Travis and Bastrop county and we are part of the Austin Public Health department. What issues did WIC face with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020? The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many challenges to our traditional processes of providing benefits for WIC participants and new […]

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Quarantined Mom Life: Social-distancing self-care

This three-part series is authored by Shalyn Bravens (read part 1 here and part 2 here), Director of Family Connects Texas. Shalyn has been with United Way for Greater Austin for more than two years and launched the Family Connects Texas initiative in Austin. Shalyn received her MSSW from the University of Texas and has expertise in family support that spans beyond her time at United Way.  Shalyn is also a mom raising two young boys with her husband. Some of the tips referenced in this blog involve help from her husband and may not be applicable to everyone’s lifestyle. Take it away, Shalyn! I want to acknowledge that my ability to transfer my job to an entirely work-from-home situation is an enormous privilege. If you have lost your job or income and are struggling to meet your family’s basic needs, that comes first before anything else. There are many people and organizations in our community that have stepped up to help, and you can find them by searching on ConnectATX.org or by calling 2-1-1. I’m not the first to say that regular self-care for parents during this time will be critical to the well-being of the whole family. But let’s be honest, self-care was a challenge to fit in for most of us when our lives were predictable. We could physically go to a gym, and we could see our friends in person. The usual strategies just will not work right now, so we need to think outside the […]

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Quarantined Mom Life: Working from home edition

This series is authored by Shalyn Bravens, Director of Family Connects Texas. Shalyn has been with United Way for Greater Austin for more than two years and launched the Family Connects Texas initiative in Austin. Shalyn received her MSSW from the University of Texas and has expertise in family support that spans beyond her time at United Way.  Shalyn is also a mom raising two young boys with her husband. Some of the tips referenced in this blog involve help from her husband and may not be applicable to everyone’s lifestyle. Take it away, Shalyn! I want to acknowledge that my ability to transfer my job to an entirely work-from-home situation is an enormous privilege. If you have lost your job or income and are struggling to meet your family’s basic needs, that comes first before anything else. There are many people and organizations in our community that has stepped up to help, and you can find them by searching on ConnectATX.org or by calling 2-1-1. I want to start by saying that I’m not an expert in working at home with children. I’m a modern working mom and balancing parenting two young boys with a full time job. As you can imagine juggling working and parenting was already hard before this pandemic confined us all to our home. As many of us begin our fourth (or fifth – I’ve lost track) week of working from home, I want to share a few ideas with you that have helped me […]

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Quarantined Mom Life: Shelter in place parenting

This series is authored by Shalyn Bravens (read part one here), Director of Family Connects Texas. Shalyn has been with United Way for Greater Austin for more than two years and launched the Family Connects Texas initiative in Austin. Shalyn received her MSSW from the University of Texas and has expertise in family support that spans beyond her time at United Way.  Shalyn is also a mom raising two young boys with her husband. Some of the tips referenced in this blog involve help from her husband and may not be applicable to everyone’s lifestyle. Take it away, Shalyn! I want to acknowledge that my ability to transfer my job to an entirely work-from-home situation is an enormous privilege. If you have lost your job or income and are struggling to meet your family’s basic needs, that comes first before anything else. There are many people and organizations in our community that have stepped up to help, and you can find them by searching on ConnectATX.org or by calling 2-1-1. Children don’t come with an instruction manual, and I think many fellow parents would agree when I say that parenting is challenging even on a normal day. And that during this COVID-19 pandemic it feels like all bets are off.  Some strategies that are helping me during this time center more around how we are parenting and less about work. I heard great advice recently that went something like, “There is a lot of parenting advice out there, and so […]

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A new way to navigate the social service system

It’s a very exciting day at United Way for Greater Austin! Today we are launching a new initiative that seeks to change the way we navigate the social service sector and you’re in luck – you get to learn about this exciting new system straight from the source. Introducing Gyllian Garvey, Navigation Center Community Integration Director and the driving force behind ConnectATX.  I spent the past four years as a Child Life Specialist, educating children and families about new diagnoses and experiences that come along with being hospitalized. In this role, I found myself discovering an immense need in our city to connect children and their families to support services and programs at a time of hurt, struggle, and financial burden. A Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) assessment during a quick visit to the Emergency Department often uncovered that the family did not have enough food to get through the evening. A new childhood cancer diagnosis has an ongoing list of challenges and changes the family will be faced with, but lack of transportation to get to weekly clinic and chemotherapy appointments was often an unnecessary barrier to the child receiving the best treatment possible.  I kept thinking… providing social workers, child life specialists, and case managers with a local online social services tool will allow a quicker and seamless way to connect families to the resources they need most, like emergency food and medical transportation.   My experiences alone are enough to say that there is a tremendous need for […]

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