When in-person therapy sessions for Rhode Island’s youngest victims of crime were no longer possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Family Service of Rhode Island’s (FSRI) Project Support Ocean State (Project SOS) created an innovative approach to provide virtual services.

This year, that innovative effort is receiving national recognition during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in a video produced by the US Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. It will be featured on Friday, April 23 during the National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony honoring individuals, programs, and organizations for their outstanding service in supporting victims. 

“We needed something to engage our clients for telehealth, said Project SOS Director Erin Albanese in a statment. “It was new to us, and to our clients. As clinicians, we usually resource our offices to provide services with coping skills tools, activities– things we no longer had access to. Knowing we had the resources within the Project SOS program, I decided we needed to get those resources out to our kiddos.”

Over the last year, FSRI sent therapy boxes to 70 children and included things like headphones, art supplies, bubbles, a mindfulness journal, and playdough, to help continue their trauma-focused therapy work with service providers safely. Each clinician has their own box, and they work together with items provided inside the box during their scheduled sessions online.

“It’s humbling,” said FSRI’s Project SOS Director Erin Albanese. “It’s also wonderful to be recognized for work that we’re so passionate about.”

FSRI’s Project SOS program is a 2019 grantee of the Office for Victims of Crime, focusing on helping children who have suffered a loss due to Substance Use Disorder. By helping them navigate the trauma it causes, Project SOS works to break the cycle of Substance Use Disorder, train providers on the impacts of substance use disorder on families, and assess the needs of clients, parents, and providers. Through a partnership with CODAC Behavioral Healthcare, Project SOS is able to connect social workers with the children of adults and parents they’re working with. 

The grant that funds Project SOS allows families without insurance to receive care. 

View the full video of highlighted programs from the OVC here.

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).