A Note from Our CEO
Enhanced Parenting Time Program in Ulster County
by Brian Doyle
I am thrilled that we are undertaking a new initiative in Ulster County that will further our work in strengthening families and ensuring closer ties between parents and their children.
When I think of the Agency’s name, Family Services, it recalls a central part of our work that has always been the case within this Agency and that is preserving families wherever possible.
While unfortunately, we do see instances where families in their current configuration cannot be saved owing to domestic violence or other destructive forces, it is heartening to know that there are many families facing obstacles that can, with proper support and encouragement, overcome those challenges and become closer and healthier.
This has been the goal of both of our Family Education Programs
in Ulster and Orange Counties and now a new opportunity for our work to be extended has emerged.
Specifically, this Enhanced Parenting Time Program provides specific curriculum-guided skills for building healthy family relationships and aids in promoting the family goals of reunification for those who have been involved in the Ulster County Family Treatment Court.
Specifically, their families have been apart due to such issues as substance use disorder on the part of parents. Reunification of those families is pursued in a way that is carefully approached with great care utilizing a multidisciplinary approach. Our staff will be providing supervised visitation between parents and the children who have been removed from their custody and providing age-appropriate skill strategies and education to families with a focus on substance use disorder and how it affects a family. Our skilled staff will work with parents before and after each parenting time session to review the session and prepare for upcoming sessions.
Resources such as transportation, training, and support in the Ulster County Family Treatment Court as well as tracking progress and providing feedback about the parenting time sessions is all part of the work in preparing families and children as they return to the home. Work continues during this transition period and after the transition home for a minimum of three months making sure the family has the support necessary to ensure stability and continued long-term reunification.
What a fabulous opportunity this presents to our Family Programs which are skillfully and sensitively led by Nicole Wong, our Director of Family Support Services.
Having worked with families in situations like this early in my career, it has remained a part of my heart, and I am excited to see this extension of our Family Programs succeed for the parents, for the children, and for the overall community.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Domestic Violence
by Casey Hons, Vice President for Operations
Domestic violence (also referred to as intimate partner violence, or IPV) is, unfortunately, a common experience for many Americans. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- 10 million people a year are physically abused by an intimate partner.
- Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking during their lifetime.
- On a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
- 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, with 90% of these children being eyewitnesses to this violence.
Pandemics, economic recessions, natural disasters, and other crises can lead to increases in domestic violence for a variety of reasons. This past year and a half, the coronavirus pandemic
has created several more barriers for individuals seeking a way out of these situations. Here are just a few of the reasons why this occurs.
More Time Spent at Home
If domestic violence was already a problem in a relationship, the pandemic has most likely made the situation worse. Once stay-at-home orders were implemented, many domestic violence hotline organizations prepared for an increase in the demand for services. However, many organizations experienced the opposite, some seeing significant drops in call volume. Experts in the field do not see this as an indication that domestic violence rates decreased, but rather that victims are unable to safely connect with services.
Economic independence is critical in domestic violence prevention. For individuals who experience IPV, it can be increasingly difficult to leave a situation in which the abuser and the victim’s finances are intertwined, or when the abuser has total control of the victim’s finances. The pandemic has resulted in millions of lost jobs in the first half of 2020 and has especially affected women, people of color, and other marginalized groups. Although some government programs helped struggling families, many people still lost income, making financial independence difficult to achieve.
The stay-at-home orders cut off many individuals from their normal sources of social support. Those who are abusive can monopolize on increased isolation to keep power and control over their victims. Isolation is an effective tool to keep partners away from their support systems. During the pandemic, abusive partners did not have to work as hard to keep victims from meeting with family and friends who might notice that something is wrong.
As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to know that services are still available. At Family Services our dedicated staff at the Center for Victim Safety and Support are finding creative, safe ways to continue working every day to help those experiencing domestic violence, even if the path to safety and recovery is made more challenging.
Domestic Violence Hotline: 845.485.5550
Rape Crisis/Crime Victim’s Hotline: 845.452.7272
By text: 845.583.0800
Monday – Friday from 9:00am – 4:00pm
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and there will be numerous opportunities for you to get involved in raising awareness about a crime that impacts so many of our neighbors. We invite you to join our 11th Annual Walk a Mile Event on October 23rd as we walk to shine a light on domestic violence in our community and ensure survivors have 24/7 access to safety and support.
UPC Offers New Substance Use Prevention Program for Adolescents
by Cheryl DePaolo, Program Director of Ulster Prevention Council
The Ulster Prevention Council is now offering Teen Intervene, a 2-4 session Evidence-Based program to address adolescent alcohol and other drug use in its early stages by providing education, support, and motivation to reduce substance use. This is a free service being offered virtually and in person to youth in Ulster and Sullivan Counties.
The model aims to meet teens where they are and recognize that some teens may not understand why they should change their behavior. Teen Intervene draws from various models proven effective in addressing substance use; including motivational interviewing, stages of change theory, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Teen Intervene is for teenagers who have experienced mild to moderate problems associated with their substance use. They may have been “caught” by parents, police, or others drinking or using marijuana at home, at school, at a gathering with friends, or at other places in the community.
Anyone concerned about a teen’s substance use can make a referral. Click here
to download a program flyer to share. If you want to learn more about the Teen Intervene Program contact:
Jody Gboney, Prevention Educator
Office: 845-452-1110 x2233
Sexual Violence Prevention: A Safer Hudson Valley
by April Bourlier, Sexual Violence Prevention Regional Coordinator
The world has changed considerably since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As leaders in regional prevention, we know all too well the current epidemics that are threatening our communities as it relates to behavioral health, poverty, and gender-based violence. At Family Services, we pride ourselves in not only providing the highest quality support and advocacy services for victims/survivors, but we also understand the critical importance of prevention work, in addition to crucial response services.
The word prevention simply means, “the action of stopping something from happening or arising” and in this case, the Regional Sexual Violence Prevention program led by Family Services, is tasked with overseeing and administering multi-layered, community-level prevention work within our community to address and prevent gender-based violence. Family Services serves as the lead agency for the NYS Department of Health Regional Sexual Violence Prevention programming for Dutchess, Westchester, and Orange Counties, and supports the implementation of the Healthy Nightlife and Healthy School Life initiatives. Both initiatives focus on many different community components of prevention, including partnership and coalition building, policy work, environmental impacts, as well as evidence-based interventions. Within the Healthy Nightlife initiative, educators implement the Safer Bars curriculum that educates bar staff on positive bystander skill building to reduce sexual aggression in alcohol-serving establishments. Within the Healthy School Life initiative, middle school and high school students learn important lessons about the importance of boundaries, what it means to be an active bystander, as well as learn how to talk and discuss issues regarding gender-based violence.
The SVP Program is launching our exciting new media campaign this fall that directly aligns with our overarching goal of creating a Safer Hudson Valley. The goal of our Safer Hudson Valley campaign is to raise awareness among individuals and communities within the Hudson Valley with the goal of reducing risk factors and promoting protective factors related to sexual violence in the Hudson Valley. This campaign includes a landing page that highlights our work within the nightlife scene and our neighboring county school partners, engages and actively participates in social media to bring to light the importance of prevention, as well as an interactive “choose your own adventure” animation series that highlights the pillars of bystander intervention as it relates to real-life scenarios. As an enhancement to the SVP program at Family Services, our hope is this campaign starts to change social norms in our community by encouraging all bystanders to become empowered when they encounter gender-based violence in their daily lives.
A Look Back
Family of the Year 2021
On Thursday, July 29 Family Services hosted our annual Family of the Year Celebration. This year we had the enormous pleasure of honoring Don & Jill Veith and the Ruge Family for their many contributions throughout the Hudson Valley.
The success of Family of the Year would not have been possible without the hard work of our volunteers and staff and the generosity of our sponsors, advertisers, and auction donors. With their assistance, we were able to host a beautiful evening in the outdoor tent at the Grandview with nearly 300 of our friends.
Thank you to everyone who helped make the night successful, we hope that you will join us at next year’s Family of the Year (moving back to the spring on Thursday, April 28, 2022).
Teen Resource Activity Center Summer Basketball League
This summer, 90 youth from our community participated in a 6-week basketball program at the Family Partnership Center. On August 18th, the championship game was held after weeks of hard work and fun. After the game youth were able to enjoy ice cream, a treat made possible by generous donors.
Thank you to our incredible staff that helped youth stay off the street, away from violence, and engaged in positive activities. We would also like to thank Heritage Financial Credit Union for supporting this program!
Celebrating 33 Years of Service
Happy Retirement Mary Turner
Mary (Flannery) Turner joined the Family Services Family on September 9th, 1988. At that time, our agency was much smaller and the entire operation fit in a beautiful old home at 50 North Hamilton Street in Poughkeepsie. It has been a pleasure and an honor to have Mary be part of over three decades of our story. Throughout her time at Family Services and the Family Partnership Center, she has held several key positions. For many years, Mary served as the Executive Assistant to the CEO, supporting management and the Board of Directors. Later, she took on the role of Facility Supervisor for the Family Partnership Center. In her most recent position, she has served as our part-time Receptionist, meeting and greeting staff and clients alike, as they entered the Family Partnership Center.
Mary has played an integral role in her 33 years, shaping Family Services and the Family Partnership Center at every step. Mary’s versatility, dedication, and wit will certainly be missed, but we wish her the very best as she transitions into her next chapter and the exciting adventure of retirement. Thank you, Mary!
Join Family Services for our 11th Annual Walk a Mile Event on Saturday, October 23rd at the Poughkeepsie Galleria. For over a decade, we have walked as a community to eliminate sexual assault and domestic violence and show our solidarity with children, adults, and families who have been impacted by violence throughout the Hudson Valley.
This event is also an opportunity to raise funds that support survivors, educate youth, and prevent future violence. Meet us at Center Court at 11:00 am to help raise awareness and join in creating stronger, safer communities for all.
Visit our website to learn how to form a walking team, donate to an existing team, or support the event as a sponsor.
Support Walk a Mile Today
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Family Services’ 2021 Leadership Partner