Changes and growth for Jewish Family Service

by | May 18, 2023 | Featured

Jewish Family Service of Tidewater was incorporated in 1948, after having spent decades under various names. Like its name, the agency has continuously evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of the community. Through a process of strategic planning and from information gleaned from United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Community Needs Assessment published in 2020, JFS continues to respond to the changing needs of the community.

“Strategic planning has been in process for a while, including input from our executive leadership team as well as from our board members and many community stakeholders,” says Anne Kramer, JFS board president. “We are forever grateful for the hours and hours of input, as we develop a plan for the future.”

Kramer was installed as president of JFS’s board in June 2021 for a term of two years. During most of her time as president, JFS was under strict COVID protocols which prevented the agency from realizing part of its planned expansion to provide more mental health services to the community. The overall slowdown of the planning process during COVID, however, allowed JFS to further evaluate the strengths and needs of the agency and the community.

“As social service and healthcare agencies continue to change in our post-COVID world, it is our responsibility to continuously evaluate our programs to ensure we are providing superior services with the greatest impact to those who need us,” says Scott Flax, incoming board president. “Our continued mission is to provide a full spectrum of human services to meet the health, education, and welfare needs of Jewish families and individuals in Hampton Roads.  As we continue to evolve, we need to be able to do that in the most effective way possible.”

Many aspects must be considered in the strategic planning process, including the financial viability of existing programs and the long-term stability of the agency.  Healthcare costs continue to rise, compliance requirements have become more complicated and costly to meet, and recruitment and retention of experienced staff becomes more challenging every day. Competition in the market has made it increasingly difficult for an agency the size of JFS to compete effectively. To make matters worse, funding for low-income older adults from Senior Services has been cut. All these factors combined resulted in JFS making the difficult decision to discontinue providing direct private duty services to people in its home care program.

JFS understands that this decision will impact families that rely on it to provide private duty services, as well as the administrative and professional staff who have loyally served the agency.  Fortunately, multiple excellent resources exist in the community that provide these services. JFS has identified Changing Tides Home Care to help direct private duty care for its clients. JFS is also working to assist families and JFS staff who wish to explore transition to Changing Tides.  Changing Tides Home Care has been awarded “Top Home Care Provider” by Readers Choice via Coastal Virginia Magazine in 2022 and 2023.

“Given the synonymous Jewish values of JFS and Changing Tides, as well as the community expectations of excellence in providing care by both agencies, the optimism regarding this transition and future collaboration overflows like a bountiful Kiddish cup,” says Rachelle Karp, owner and founder of Changing Tides. “I am excited to provide the highest care to those in need within our community.”

New JFS program for older and disabled adults 

JFS will continue its support for older and disabled adults through one of its newest initiatives: Embrace Care Management Program. Care Management provides support to help coordinate the many, and often complex, challenges that occur as people age.

“We are committed to working with each of our clients and staff to support a smooth transition of direct care to another provider over the next several weeks, with the potential that current caregivers may have the choice to transition with the clients in this process,” says Kelly Burroughs, JFS CEO.  “For clients who may not want to make this transition, our Care Management team will work with them to find alternatives.”

“We continue to grow multiple programs at JFS as we pivot to provide the services that are needed most and that we can effectively deliver,” says Burroughs.

One of the areas of significant growth for JFS is in its clinical counseling department. “The need is overwhelming,” says Debbie Mayer, clinical director for JFS. “We are providing more hours of service than ever before and have recently hired another licensed clinician to help us keep up.”

As part of its planned expansion, the JFS counseling program, now called Embrace Counseling is moving off the Sandler Family Campus, and back to its former location on Grayson Road.

“Last year we provided nearly 3,000 hours of counseling by our team of LCSWs. With the additional space, we can hire more clinicians and see more people to help fill the need of mental health services in our community,” says Mayer.

In the past year, the program also began providing internship opportunities for students from VCU and Norfolk State to help mentor and train the next generation of social workers.

As Jewish Family Service evolves, the agency plans to continue its long-standing tradition of caring and concern for the community it serves. In 2022, for example, JFS:

• Delivered nearly 8,000 meals to home-bound seniors in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

• Provided food to more than 500 people experiencing food-insecurity from JFS’ pantries.

• Provided food and/or financial assistance to more than 300 impoverished Jewish individuals.

• Provided nearly 400 trips for seniors to medical appointments.

• Provided Guardian and/or Conservator services to more than 1,600 incapacitated adults.

“We look forward to continuing these critical initiatives and believe that together,” says Burroughs, “we can build a stronger, healthier community where everyone can thrive.”

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 JFS is not affiliated in any way with Changing Tides Home Care and has not independently verified this statement or the credentials of Changing Tides.  All consumers of home health services are encouraged to perform their own research to verify the qualifications, suitability, and credentials of any provider selected.