The Jewish Social Service Agency brought its expertise and broad range of services to Northern Virginia nearly three decades ago.
Since then, JSSA has helped thousands of children, adolescents, adults and seniors of all faiths through expert mental health counseling, care coordination, home-care services for seniors, adoption support, community outreach and volunteer services (including meals on wheels for seniors and escorted transportation services). Today, JSSA’s Fairfax office comprises 20 staff members including early childhood specialists, clinical social workers, senior services specialists, a psychiatrist, a synagogue liaison and an adoption supervisor who last year supported nearly 10,000 individuals and families through several programs.
To further its reach into the area, JSSA’s Fairfax team collaborates with the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, synagogues and churches, senior residents and the public school system and other private and parochial schools. These collaborations have resulted in:
Early childhood services
JSSA provides preschools throughout the community with classroom observations and parental/teacher consultations.
Bullying prevention program
Bullying in schools and in cyberspace is a serious problem that can dramatically affect the ability of students to progress academically and socially. In response to the alarming rise of bullying incidents throughout the Northern Virginia area in the last few years and to address requests from several schools, JSSA’s clinical staff developed a comprehensive bullying prevention program for elementary and middle schools that involves students, parents and school personnel.
Autism Spectrum Disorder services and support
Just recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data indicating that about one in 68 children is now identified with autism spectrum disorder.
For many years, JSSA has recognized the need to develop a specialization in this area and now has several clinicians who specialize in Level 1 autism spectrum disorder and who work with children, teens, adults and their families to unlock development potential and maximize opportunities. In addition, one of JSSA’s clinicians, who is appointed to the state’s autism council, works specifically with adults to help them develop skills to live and work independently. JSSA, together with the JCCNV, was one of the first organizations in the metro D.C. area to identify a growing need for socialization programs for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum. We created an award-winning program, “Going Places!” JSSA presents three monthly social clubs for those on the spectrum: teens 14-17, young adults 18-29 and adults 30 and over.
The club provides social opportunities, all within a structured, supportive and safe environment with guidance from professionally trained clinical staff who work with participants on improving social skills. JSSA is also involved in a collaborative approach to serving young adults on the autism spectrum with the SPARC Program of Northern Virginia, with sites in McLean and Reston. This program is based on a clubhouse approach focusing on the development of vocational learning, employment support and opportunities through the development of inter- and intra-personal skills, strategies and coping mechanisms.
Synagogue Liaison Program
JSSA has forged relationships with seven synagogues to offer the services of a social worker to congregants. JSSA also provides workshops at synagogues on topics ranging from bullying in schools, talking to teens to caring for aging parents, as well as chaplaincy services for unaffiliated Jews.
JSSA’s senior services specialists work with the JCCNV and other senior-focused organizations to help older adults and their families cope with the many issues facing the elderly and to navigate the care system to find appropriate services. In addition, JSSA, together with our subsidiary partner agency Premier Homecare, recently entered into a collaborative partnership with Chesterbrook Residences, Inc., and its members (Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, Temple Rodef Shalom, and Immanual Presbyterian Church) to offer “At Home Choices,” a specialized program offering an individualized menu of personalized solutions for independent living.
To find out more, please visit jssa.org.
Andrew McGahan, LCSW, is JSSA’s Fairfax clinical director.