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Youth Services Staff Recognized for Exceptional Work During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Youth Services Staff Recognized for Exceptional Work During COVID-19 Pandemic


On May 17, 2023, several current and former YSD employees received recognition for their work during the COVID-19 Pandemic at a special recognition ceremony held by Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker at the Governmental Center in West Palm Beach.

County Administrator Verdenia Baker recognized the following YSD staff members and initiatives:

Equity & Diversity Program

Dr. Danniella Jones, Psychologist, led efforts to provide resources and tools to assist multidisciplinary professionals and outreach to youth, families, and various community organizations after the murder of George Floyd, in the summer of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was fresh worldwide. Dr. Jones offers professional presentations and workshops to various community members on multiple platforms to discuss the disparity and microaggression following Mr. Floyd's death. The tremendous positive response to the program resulted in a platform that is able to function as a proactive intervention in the advancement of equality and education on socioeconomic disparities.

Dr. Danniella Jones and Verdenia Baker

Residential Treatment and Family Counseling Division Multi-Program Transformation

Within eight days of the COVID-19 pandemic declaration, Dr. Shayna Ginsburg, Chief of Clinical Services at YSD’s Education & Training Center, and Dr. Amanda Terrell, Chief of Clinical Services at Highridge Family Center, transitioned all outpatient and residential services to virtual platforms. The Chiefs' unwavering determination and dedication to reinstating these crucial therapeutic services to the youth and families in Palm Beach County undergoing trauma associated with the pandemic. This transition allowed Youth Services Department's Residential Treatment and Family Counseling (RTFC) phone therapy sessions to be implemented quickly.

Research done by the Chiefs allowed for the development of Telepsychology Best Practices, followed by the Basics of Telemental Health and multiple Zoom trainings, so the clinicians of RTFC could provide competent and ethical mental health services to our clients.

Dr. Shayna Ginsburg and Dr. Amanda Terrell with Verdenia Baker

Highridge Family Center Intensive Outpatient Program

Instead of closing its doors to families or limiting services to only telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, Highridge Family Center altered its programming to become an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), supporting families feeling uncomfortable or unsafe leaving their children alone.

Highridge clients typically have increased needs for supervision and educational support. The center was able to alter the program and conversion to the IOP, which was the first time in more than 20 years the program changed its five-day residential structure. As new guidelines and research became available regarding COVID-19 on a daily basis, Highridge Family Center staff Majorie Auguste, Victim Advocate, Jeffrey Sinclair, Residential Youth Counselor, Vynteria Davis, Juvenile Residence Technician, and Andrea Morales, Juvenile Residence Technician, became responsive to altering the program to enhance safety and security.

Highridge Family Center staff with Verdenia Baker