By Dan Montgomery

When the COVID-19 pandemic sparked mask mandates and social distancing early last year, enCircle staffers scrambled to adapt programs to the new reality. They found ways to keep schools, group homes and in-home services up and running.
But Day Support programs? Bringing large groups of people we serve and staffers together, indoors, each day was out of the question. But staff did have some ideas. "We have been able to provide Day Support services to our group-home residents in their homes almost since the shutdown began," says Andy Miller, Regional Manager for enCircle’s Developmental Services program.
More recently, Group Home residents have attended the Day Support program in Lynchburg a few days per week. "Right now, we are only serving two group homes at a time," Miller says. "We have not yet made plans to open up to people outside of our homes. When we last reached out to them in the summer, people were extremely hesitant, but hopefully, they are more open to it now."
Like many agencies and businesses around the world, enCircle is trying to take lessons learned during the pandemic to improve programs, procedures, and services. Day Support will not re-emerge exactly as it was before, Miller says. "We want to pursue a smaller program model with a much greater emphasis on community engagement instead of center-based services," he says. "At the same time, maintaining a center-based location will provide stability to support the day-to-day variations inherent to community services."