Residential Practice in COVID

Behavioral Health

A number of key factors play a role in determining how behavioral health services can be consistently provided to kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. When and how to provide telehealth services was at the center of protocol decisions. Key factors are listed below.

  • Establish a rotation of clinicians in order to ensure that there is a continued clinical presence at the facility in case of emergency or needed milieu support.
  • Readjust scheduling of appointments such that clinicians provide face-to-face therapy to clients on their designated days.
  • Services should be provided outside, whenever possible, with social distancing and masks. Clinicians and their supervisors should discuss whether exceptions may be made regarding masks (based on the clinical needs of the resident) when a clinician and child are outside, alone, and more than six feet apart.
  • Provision of PPE to clinicians and reiteration of social distancing protocols.
  • Triaging youth in quarantine/isolation in order to identify which youth can benefit from remote telehealth services and which youth may still require face-to-face therapy.



Establish and disseminate telehealth guidelines for clinicians. Including information regarding:

  • Home visits and contacts for youth on trial discharge.
  • Established protocols for remote telehealth services for youth in quarantine/isolation as a result of COVID-19 exposure.
  • Determining technical needs for telehealth (See: Technology)
  • Identifying the right HIPPA compliant, telehealth health platform for your program.
  • Assessing hardware and software needs of clinicians and residences.
  • Identifying space for residents to connect with clinicians remotely.
  • Dissemination of Training for staff in Telehealth
  • Working Virtually with Kids
  • Telehealth Tip Sheet
  • Prepare clinicians for grief counseling through trainings and dissemination of resources. See attachments below regarding grief.

BH Telehealth Vendor Analysis
HIPPA Compliant Technology During COVID-19
ATA Practice Guidelines for Telemental Health with Children and Adolescents (March, 2017)
ABA-ATA Best Practice Guidelines for Telemental Health (April, 2018)
Guide for Clinicians Conducting Telehealth with Children during COVID-19
Telehealth Tip Sheet
Working Virtually with Kids
Sample protocol: Telehealth Guidelines for Clinicians During COVID-19
Basic Tips for Offering Telemental Health Services (Relias) [NOT SURE WE CAN USE THIS]
How to prepare for a Video Appointment
Talking to Kids about Coronavirus
Coronavirus:  A Book for Children
The Columbia University Center for Complicated Grief
Helpful Grief Resources
What does Grief Feel Like
Communicating with Grieving Teens