Adelphi University honored by New York State for addressing issues with children's mental health.


Maria Lauria, MSW, Director of Children’s Services, Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS); Stephanie Hubelbank, JD, Bureau Chief of the County Child Welfare Attorneys; and Marcy Safyer PhD, Director, Institute for Parenting, Adelphi University

The 6th annual “What’s Great in Our State” ceremony honored individuals and programs that are successfully addressing the issues of children’s mental health in New York State. The Adelphi University Institute for Parenting’s Nassau County Babies Can’t Wait project, a collaboration with Supervising Judge Edmund M. Dane of the Nassau County Family Court, and Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS)-Children’s Services is an initiative aimed at reducing the risk of repeated abuse and neglect and increasing safety, permanency, and well-being for children zero to five years of age in foster care. Institute for Parenting Director Marcy Safyer accepted the honor for the Babies Can’t Wait Project on May 5 at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY. The audience was comprised of more than 100 mental health advocates, educators, school administrators, state agency leaders and parents of children living with a mental health challenge.

The program also featured remarks by Donna Bradbury, associate commissioner, New York State Office of Mental Health; Honorable Robert Ortt, chair of the New York State Mental Health Committee and the Honorable Aileen Gunther, chair of the New York State Assembly Mental Health Committee. In addition, there was a presentation of a proclamation from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declaring the Week of May 5-12 as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Nassau County Babies Can’t Wait which officially began in October 2013, represents a comprehensive restructuring of the Nassau County Child Welfare System with more attention on the needs and services provided for 0-5 year olds and their parents (birth and foster). The Nassau County Family Court, The Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Adelphi University Institute for Parenting, came together on behalf of the youngest children in foster care to develop a system that is trauma informed and responsive to the developmental and emotional needs of this population. Infants are the largest group of children to enter, remain and re-enter the foster care system. Approximately one in five children entering foster care is an infant. Infants are also the most vulnerable. They tend to have more developmental, medical and emotional disorders. Ninety percent of the children entering the foster care system have experienced trauma as well. There is a priority to help children as early as possible to prevent additional trauma for the child and produce the best outcomes for the child, family and our society.

This 6th annual “What’s Great in Our State” celebration was hosted by a committee comprised of representatives from The New York State Office of Mental Health, The Council of Children and Families and the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council through partnership with several nonprofit organizations, including The Early Care & Learning Council, The National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State, The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, The Capital District Child Care Council and Families Together in New York State.

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