Agenda and Presentations

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

8:00am Registration


10:00am – 11:30am
Concurrent Pre-Conference Sessions
ICAN Connect: The Power of Connection in Protecting our Mental Health
Jeremy Butler, Chief Administrative Officer, ICAN & Event Specialist, Grand Dynamics International (GDI)

The past few years have presented significant challenges for many of us in a variety of ways, which has exacerbated the growing rates of people struggling to manage their own mental health and the mental health of those around them. As we begin to work our way back to our “new now”, it’s important for us to better understand the critical role that social connection plays in protecting our mental health. In this experiential workshop, participants will be encouraged to explore how the pandemic has impacted their own social connections and begin the process of re-connecting with one another in new and impactful ways. Saratoga 1&2


Full Coalition Meeting
This meeting is for members of the NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health only. Broadway


11:30am – 1:30pm
Awards Luncheon & Keynote Address
Welcome & Keynote: Free Hugs Project
Ken E. Nwadike, Jr., Peace Activist, Video Journalist and YouTube Personality

In this fun, creative and interactive program Ken brings his “Free Hugs Project” to engage participants in conversations of understanding, and compassion amidst the rising tide of hatred and racism. The event concludes with a keynote address that will explore how to overcome the differences that divide us. The goal of this program is to create unity and build community, and remind participants that we are all humans in need of love. City Center D


1:45pm – 3:00pm
Concurrent Sessions

A-1) Family Finding – Essential Work in Helping Children Achieve Permanency
Mark Quail, Associate Executive Director for Permanency and Family Support, St. Catherine’s Center for Children
Meghan Ideman, Family Finding Specialist, St. Catherine’s Center for Children
Tess Mahnken Weatherspoon, Permanency Manager, Hillside
Jaclyn Yusko, MS, Chief Operating Officer, St. Catherine’s Center for Children

St. Catherine’s Family Finding work is based on the Family Finding Model created by Kevin Campbell. Mr. Campbell has spent his career as a children’s mental health, and health systems innovator and is the founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness. The Family Finding model helps develop permanent lifetime connections for youth in the child welfare, mental health, developmental disabilities and juvenile justice systems. Broadway 1&2


A-2) Supporting the Workforce Through Internships
Kathleen Moccio, Program Coordinator for Children’s Services, MHA of Westchester
Allyson Good, Program Coordinator-HHSC, MHA of Westchester

Studies show that full-time employees hired following internships are 20% more likely to stick with their hiring organization when compared to non-intern hired. Join us as we discuss the benefits of developing and maintaining a robust internship program in the mental health field. Learn about the success we have had as an agency hiring our interns post-graduation and seeing them grow through different roles and levels of management. Broadway 3&4


A-3) Harm Reduction 101 with an Overview of NY Community Overdose Prevention Education (NY COPE)
Maria Morris-Groves, MSED, Director Adolescent, Women and Family Services, NYS OASAS
Mary Brewster, MSW, Associate Commissioner, Harm Reduction, NYS OASAS
Jessica Sorbello, LCSW, Project Director, NY COPE, NYS OASAS

The presentation will provide a brief overview of Harm Reduction 101 and OASAS integration of Harm Reduction into the continuum of care. Participants will also be introduced to NY COPE and Overdose Prevention Project looking to address the intersection of Home Visiting Programs and Overdose Prevention. Alabama/Travers


A-4) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Roundtable
Keith Little, President and CEO, SCO Family of Services
Yvette Bairan, Chief Executive Officer, Astor Services for Children & Families
Elizabeth McPartland, President & Chief Executive Officer, Child & Family Services

Join the discussion on how Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging is essential in our services and supports to children and families, as well as our workforce. Learn and share promising practices, opportunities and implicit biases that we all encounter in our daily lives and work. Saratoga 3


A-5) Utilizing Self-Care in Our Work
Maxine Reddy, Ed.D., Sr. Director – The Sanctuary Institute, ANDRUS
Sherri Turner, Faculty Member and Certification Coordinator, Sanctuary Institute

The Sanctuary Model is a blueprint for the process of developing a trauma informed and responsive organizational culture, for everyone in the community. Over the past two and a half years, human service agencies have operated under unprecedented levels of chronic toxic stress and trauma, and the impacts to human service staff and teams has been devastating. We will share lessons learned through our recent work, and provide Social Learning opportunities around the questions of: How do we institutionalize Self Care as a fundamental part of our work? How can organizations and leadership support individual and team Self Care? How do we build in mitigating resources to minimize the impact of chronic toxic stress on our staff and teams? Join us for this interactive workshop and dialogue. Saratoga 1&2


3:00pm – 3:30pm Break with Vendors


3:30pm – 5:00pm
Concurrent Sessions

B-1) Transition Aged Youth- Examining Barriers and Best Practices for Services
Tiara Springer-Love MSW, Executive Director of Youth Power, Families Together in NYS-Youth Power
Laura Romanoff, Long Island Regional Youth Power, Families Together in NYS-Youth Power

Young people are the experts on their own lives. Unfortunately, many times they are not seen as experts, and system leaders may not involve young people in decisions about their own cases or about how the system should operate to effectively support them. As a result, without this level of engagement, systems often perpetuate negative experiences and outcomes. Drawing from their experiences, perspectives, ideas and skills, these facilitators seek to strengthen providers in responsive and sustainable ways to engaging transition aged youth. While also discussing the benefits to having a Youth Peer Advocate and the role one plays in supporting a TAY in navigating and thriving in varying youth serving systems. Broadway 1&2


B-2) Home Based Crisis Intervention: Past, Present and Future
Natarsha Waklatsi MPH, Bureau Director, Community Residential, Inpatient and Crisis Services, NYS OMH
Kathy Wright LCSW-R, MHPS, NYS OMH
Rebecca Baitsholts, LMSW, MHPS, NYS OMH

Home Based Crisis Intervention (HBCI) is a state-wide program providing intensive, brief, in-home, clinical services to youth in mental health crisis. Its goal is to avert unnecessary psychiatric hospitalizations and placements via family-driven and youth-focused treatment, crisis intervention, advocacy and referrals to ongoing services. OMH has been gathering data on the best practices of HBCI programs, developing updated program guidance, and working to expand and enhance the program. Participants will learn about the philosophical roots of HBCI, the delivery and outcomes of current HBCI programs, factors contributing to HBCI’s successful outcomes, and the upcoming expansion of the program. Saratoga 3


B-3) A Listening Session on CCR and RTF Referral Application and Admission Redesign Project
Emily Bancroft, Children’s Residential Program Specialist, NYS OMH
Joanne Qiao, Residential Treatment Facility Program Specialist, NYS OMH
Erin Williams, Unit Director, Children’s Residential and Inpatient Services, NYS OMH

The NYS Office of Mental Health, in collaboration with the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors has been updating and streamlining application and review processes for Youth ACT, CCR and RTF levels of care. We will be implementing a new universal and integrated referral application process beginning Jan. 1st of 2023. Our goal is to make access to care more equitable and timelier for those seeking intensive and/or out of home interventions for youth with complex and significant mental health needs and their caregivers. 

This session will provide an opportunity for CCRs and RTFs, and those that apply to CCRs and RTFs, to share feedback on the new application forms and process as well as current referral and pre-admission experiences. OMH is hoping to better understand CCR and RTF referral and pre-admission best practices and needs.

We are interested in hearing from CCRs and RTFs as entities receiving referral applications for admission, and completing referral applications in the course of discharge planning. This session will also welcome referring providers including State Psychiatric Centers, current or past RTF and CCR youth applicants and their caregivers, Family Peer Advocates, Youth Peer Advocates, and government entities (LGUs and OMH FOs.)

Objectives include: Increase provider engagement in the CCR/RTF Referral Application and Admission Redesign project; obtain external stakeholder feedback regarding the new referral process and application forms; Understand opportunities and challenges surrounding the new referral process. Saratoga 1&2


B-4) Responding to an Opioid Overdose: Naloxone Rescue Training
Mandee Nann, Naloxone Training Specialist, NYS OASAS

Participants learn to recognize, respond to and reverse a suspected opioid overdose using naloxone (Narcan). Overdose reversal kits containing naloxone are available at trainings for all first responders and for those with an immediate need. Other participants will learn how to obtain free or low-cost naloxone from a pharmacy using their medical insurance and the New York State Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program (N-CAP). Alabama/Travers


B-5) Understanding LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Needs and How to Take Action for Equity
Lauren Ford, (She/her), Northern Rivers Family Services
Jonathan Meagher-Zayas (he/him/él), Jonathan’s Awesome Nonprofit Solutions

Research regarding health disparities for LGBTQ+ youth is striking.  According to Mental Health America, LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to have thoughts of suicide and over four times as likely to attempt suicide as non-LGBTQ+ youth due to the stigma, discrimination, harassment, and violence faced by LGBTQ+ people. The current behavioral health workforce shortage and children’s behavioral health crisis in New York further exacerbate these challenges. The presentation will include a call to action for stakeholders to take initiative to expand LGBTQ+ culturally responsive workshops, strategies, grants, and provider training. Swift action must be taken to educate leaders and providers about LGBTQ+ specific behavioral health needs, and direct communication to the public to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ communities on the legal protections for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers is necessary to build equity and facilitate access to behavioral healthcare. Broadway 3&4


Wednesday, November 30th

9:00am – 10:00am Opening Plenary
Silver Linings…and how to find them
Jeremy Butler, Chief Administrative Officer, ICAN & Event Specialist, Grand Dynamics International (GDI)

The pandemic was a collective trauma that impacted so many of us in completely different ways. In any crisis, there are always two elements present, Danger and…Opportunity. During difficult times it can be challenging to find those “silver linings”. This interactive Keynote address will talk about various strategies that can help anyone find the silver lining in most situations. City Center D


10:15am – 11:30am
Concurrent Sessions

C-1) Building the Capabilities and Competencies of Early Childhood Professionals in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: A New York City Initiative
Evelyn J. Blanck, LCSW, Executive Director, New York Center for Child Development
Meaghan E. Baier, LMSW, Director of Healthcare Innovation, NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy & Research
Fatima Kadik, Project Director, Early Childhood Mental Health Services, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

Research has shown that what happens in the early years sets the foundation for lifelong health and mental health, yet few clinicians are trained in early childhood development or mental health. This workshop will present a major initiative in New York City to build the capabilities and competencies of early childhood professionals around infant and early childhood mental health. The success of the initiative is the three pronged approach, combining clinical service with a robust training initiative and technical assistance. Broadway 1&2


C-2) Family Peer Advocates as Essential Staff in Residential Interventions
Heather Tafuro, Long Island Parent Advisor, Families Together in NYS

This workshop, led by family members, some who have had children in residential programs and work as Family Peer Advocates will define family driven care and its importance in residential interventions, describe the science and evidence that support this practice, discuss the challenges and outcomes of hiring Family Peer Advocates, and provide examples of programs that have successfully moved in this direction. Broadway 3&4


C-3) Helping the Helping Professionals: Staff Recruitment and Retention at Astor Services
Briana Johannesen, PsyD, Director of Clinical Training, Astor Services
Todd Karlin, PsyD, Chief Program Officer, Astor Services
Lauren Augello, MD, Addiction Psychiatrist, Astor Services

Most organizations can relate to the ongoing difficulties in hiring and retaining qualified staff. Non-profit organizations have to be especially creative in addressing these workforce challenges in ways that are fiscally sustainable. We will discuss some innovative ways we have tried to recruit and retain staff at Astor services, based on what we know about our staff’s needs and what makes a workplace appealing. Saratoga 3


C-4) NYS Office of Mental Health’s Equity Strategy: Implementing Innovative Policy and Program Changes to Eliminate Disparities
Matt Canuteson, Chief Diversity Officer, NYS OMH

The presenter will discuss the components of OMH’s strategy to eliminate disparities in Access, Quality and Treatment Outcomes for minority, underserved, and marginalized populations. This session will include information about changes in the way the Agency is collecting disparities data, efforts to increase the level of diversity in the mental health field. Further, the session will explore opportunities to strengthen equity, diversity, and inclusion in child-serving program policies and procedures and strategies for embedding these principles into practice. Saratoga 1&2


C-5) SPOA Meeting
Michelle Wagner, Statewide C-SPOA Coordinator Division of Integrated Community Services for Children and Families, NYS Office of Mental Health
Davia Plusch, Child and Family Specialist Division of Integrated Community Services for Children and Families, NYS Office of Mental Health
Erin Williams, Unit Director Children’s Residential and Hospital-Based Services Division of Integrated Community Services for Children and Families, NYS Office of Mental Health

NYS Office of Mental Health will meet with Local Governmental Units’ (LGU) Single Point of Access (SPOA) to discuss the Universal Referral form, associated workflows and the roles and responsibilities of SPOA. Alabama/Travers


11:30am – 11:45am Break


11:45am – 1:00pm
Concurrent Sessions

D-1) Specialty Addiction Services for Underserved Populations
Sam Kawola, LMSW, Youth/Young Adult Services Coordinator, NYS OASAS
Steve Rozycki, LMSW, CASAC, Project Coordinator, NYS OASAS
Katie Seaward, LMSW, Women and Older Adults Services Coordinator, NYS OASAS

Join NYS OASAS Adolescent, Women, and Family Services staff for an overview of two new specialty designations for OASAS-certified programs: the Adolescent Endorsement and the LGBTQ-Affirming Program Endorsement. You’ll learn more about what an OASAS designation is and how each of these endorsements emphasize quality over quantity and seek to increase access to addiction services for these two vulnerable populations. Broadway 1&2


D-2) The Journey to Engagement, Involvement, & Partnership using a Family Driven Care Lens
Pam Brannan, Western Region Parent Advisor, Families Together in NYS

Family engagement is at the heart of the work we all aspire to do, and yet we all lament the challenges of engaging these same parents and youth. Where is the disconnect? Might providers, agencies and systems of care all be subtlety communicating to families without knowing it that families are not at the center of their own care? In this workshop we will explore together what it means to be family driven and the real-life obstacles that challenge our ability and desire to change. We will participate in an activity to try to change the lens on our experience so we can see more clearly from a family perspective and then explore what that means for our practice. Together we will explore the experience from the parent and youth perspective in order to identify changes, big and small, that will make a big impact in the family driven care each provides. Broadway 3&4


D-3) Raising Resilience: Supporting School-Based Mental Health During and Post-Pandemic
Tzivy Reiter, LCSW, Director of Children’s & National Trauma Services, Ohel
Carly Namdar, Ed.D., MS Ed CSP, Trauma Sensitive Services Coordinator, Ohel

The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the role of resilience to front and center in discussions of recovery. This presentation will reflect on Resilience-based tools for Educators and Students, sharing insights and best practices from Ohel’s resources developed and implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic, utilizing a Guide for School Re-entry and “My COVID-19 Resilience Workbook,” completed by 8000+ students. Ohel’s pilot Resilient Schools model will also be presented, integrating resilience-building and trauma-sensitive practices, enhancing the personal wellbeing of teachers, students and the larger school community. Saratoga 3


D-4) Supporting Children with Complex Needs and their Families: Exploring the Intersection between Clinic, CFTSS with Health Home, High Fidelity Wraparound, and HCBS
Colette Poulin, MSSA, Health Program Director, Children’s Health Home, Division of Program Development and Management, NYS DOH
Shannon Fortran, MA, MHC, IMH-E®, Division of Integrated Community Services for Children and Families, NYS OMH
Kim Heffner, Wraparound Training and Implementation Statewide Coordinator, Division of Integrated Community Services for Children and Families, NYS OMH
Michelle Wagner, Mental Health Program Specialist, Division of Integrated Community Services for Children and Families, NYS OMH

The children’s mental health continuum of care is a multifaceted and ever evolving system with various programs to serve a wide range of need. This session will examine the children’s outpatient mental health system, with a specific emphasis on child-serving clinics and Children and Family Treatment and Support Services (CFTSS) and explore the interplay with Health Home Care Management, High Fidelity Wraparound, and the Children’s Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Program in helping to support children with complex needs to keep them in their homes and communities. Join DOH and OMH staff in a discussion on the how these programs work in tandem to support children and families. Saratoga 1&2


D-5) Responding to an Opioid Overdose: Naloxone Rescue Training
Mandee Nann, Naloxone Training Specialist, NYS OASAS

Participants learn to recognize, respond to and reverse a suspected opioid overdose using naloxone (Narcan). Overdose reversal kits containing naloxone are available at trainings for all first responders and for those with an immediate need. Other participants will learn how to obtain free or low-cost naloxone from a pharmacy using their medical insurance and the New York State Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program (N-CAP). Alabama/Travers


Employee of the Year Celebration

View Celebration Information


Families Together in New York State
737 Madison Ave, Albany, NY 12208
Contact: Nancy Craig, Director of Community and Systems Engagement and Parent Advisor Liaison


OASIS logo
Contact: Maria Morris-Groves, MSEd., Director of Adolescent, Women and Family Services

Thank You

Thank you to our Conference Partner: The NYS Office of Mental Health


Thank you to our Committee Members

Wendy Arnold, Tioga County MH SPOA

Reina Batrony, NY Foundling

Jill Benson, The Jewish Board

Jeanette Burgos, Coalition for Hispanic Families

Melanie DeMare, Hillside

Shannon Fortran, NYS OMH

Meredith Ray-Labatt, NYS OMH

Trish Luchnick, Astor

Melanie Neumann, CCFHH

Kathy Perkins, House of the Good Shepherd

Joanne Qiao, NYS OMH

Michelle Wagner, NYS OMH

Erin Williams, NYS OMH


Evaluation link