|Child & Family Support
The Child and Family Support Program, a peer run program, offers a variety of services to include support, advocacy, and education to those who have a family member suffering from a mental illness. Advocates working in the program have a child or family member diagnosed with a mental illness.
Parents and caregivers, community partners and agencies, as well as professionals may access the program for information and referrals. Our current list of private counselors and psychiatrists, as well as our lists of clinics throughout Erie County, provides parents and community partners with accurate information so that they may make the most immediate and appropriate linkage to treatment.
CFSP is a member of Families Together NYS, a state-wide organization that strives to establish a unified voice for children and youth with emotional, behavioral and social challenges and also promotes youth voice and choice.
Services may differ depending on whether the family member is a child, adolescent or an adult.
Services are aimed at helping families to maintain their children in the most appropriate, yet least restrictive environment.
Facing the reality of having a child with significant emotional and/or behavioral challenges is often an overwhelming experience for families.
Thrust into unfamiliar territory, families quickly begin to feel lost and isolated. CFSP helps the child's caretaker learn necessary skills and information to effectively advocate for their family.
The transition from adolescence to becoming a young adult may be extremely difficult for those also suffering from a mental illness. CFSP assists youth and families during this time. Our Youth Peer Support Group connects youth with others facing the same challenges.
Workshops and conferences are available to young adults; encouraging them to advocate on their own behalf.
Young adults are encouraged to be an active part in their treatment plan. A “20 Something” group takes place monthly for transition-age youth 18 years of age and up.
Family Advocates work with families on reaching their self-identified goals. Advocacy is multi-faceted and may involve:
- Learning to navigate the mental health system.
- Understanding and learning to pursue appropriate educational accommodations.
- Discussions with the child's treatment team.
- Working with formal and informal community supports.
Family advocates are available Monday through Friday to provide an understanding ear and a wealth of information about services and supports in Erie County, your family's rights and the mechanics of the system.
A child's behaviors can often make it impossible for the caretakers to get a break. Short-term respite provided by a trained, experienced, background-cleared respite worker can help. This program is available for children 4-18 years of age. An assessment is completed to determine eligibility for the program.
A group respite event is scheduled monthly for children, providing children the opportunity to work on social skills and develop friendships. Family support group offers:
- An opportunity for parents to talk, problem-solve, learn skills for self-advocacy and celebrate accomplishments in a mutually supportive environment.
- Parent-run, parent-driven sessions, which are not and should not be therapy sessions, but can be very therapeutic.
- Group respite (childcare) with trained respite providers (one week notice required).
What one parent said about family support group:
"It has been a lifesaver for me to lean on experienced, non-judgemental, informed parents who deal with issues similar to my own”
Trainings, Workshops and Conferences
CFSP offers trainings and guest speakers during support groups, and advocates keep abreast of area presentations to help families enhance self-advocacy skills.
Families raising children with emotional or behavioral challenges often find participation in community activities difficult. The Child and Family Support Program offer family activities.
Annual Family Picnic - held each summer, a 3 hour group respite activity for children is held monthly
CFSP provides support in the Hospitals
The Child and Family Support Program facilitates a support group once a week at the Erie County Medical Center in addition to greeting families in the Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation Program (CPEP) 7 days a week. Family advocates have been in CPEP with their own children and provide support and linkage to community resources.
Family advocates visit BryLin Hospitals providing Family Support on the children’s and adult units 3 days a week. In addition, youth peer support is provided twice a week.