Children involved with the child welfare system are at risk for a range of physical, developmental and emotional health problems. Children must be provided with individualized, comprehensive and well coordinated health care, developmental and mental health assessments and follow up care in order to reach their fullest potential. Westchester Institute for Human Development offers a range of personalized support services.
Using a variety of standardized assessment tools and methods we evaluate every child who enters family foster care in Westchester County. Results of the evaluations are shared with casework staff at the Department of Social Services and are used to identify areas of concern and target service referrals appropriately. Following our evaluation, children are frequently referred for Early Intervention, Head Start, Special Education evaluations, Speech/Language or Audiology services, psychiatric evaluations and mental health treatment, tutoring, after-school programs and/or specialized medical care.Westchester County. The program works in collaboration with community providers to ensure that families receive wraparound community services. The family’s functioning is monitored up to two years post-discharge.
FOSTER HOME EVALUATIONS
Shortly after a child is placed in foster care, they are visited by a post-doctoral psychology fellow who conducts an “in home assessment” to examine the goodness of fit between the child and the foster home. The focus of this assessment is on the child’s fit within the foster home and is meant to quickly identify concerns so that steps can be taken to address the needs of the child. Our findings are shared with both the foster parent and the Department of Social Services.
When parents are actively planning for the return of their child(ren) from foster care, WIHD conducts a comprehensive evaluation of the parent(s) at the request of the Department of Social Services. These assessments include the use of standardized assessment measures as well as an observation of the parent-child interaction. Findings from these evaluations are shared with the Department of Social Services and used to develop meaningful permanency plans for families.
Our staff of highly skilled and experienced clinicians provides treatment services to children in foster care and their birth families. Our clinicians provide individual, group, sibling and family therapy using different modalities of non-directive and directive therapy to fit the needs of each child and family we serve.
Hands-on parent training is provided to parents alongside their children using a structured curriculum that builds upon parents’ skills, teaches them skills they lack and improves a parents’ capacity to safely care for and nurture their child(dren).
SUPPORT FOR FOSTER PARENTS
THE ENHANCED FOSTER CARE PROGRAM
The goal of the Enhanced Foster Care Program is to help prevent placement disruptions which result in children being moved to other foster homes or a higher level of care. An experienced clinician interacts regularly with the family to provide support and to offer strategies to help the foster parents gain a better understanding of the developmental and behavioral challenges that children in their home may display. Outside activities provided by a socio-therapist offer respite to foster parents and an opportunity for children to enhance their socialization skills.
PEDIATRIC MEDICAL SERVICES
WIHD provides medical management and comprehensive medical services to the Department of Social Services (DSS) Pediatric Unit. The Pediatric Unit functions as the “Medical Home” for approximately 300 children in Westchester County DSS family foster care, including those on trial discharge. Health supervision and medical services follow the guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Bright Futures, and Working Together, the New York State – Office of Children and Family Services manual for health care services for children in foster care.
As a Medical Home, the Pediatric Unit provides comprehensive, quality, culturally-sensitive medical care, coordinating all specialty medical services, and ensuring that children have access to their complete medical health history upon discharge from foster care.
The Pediatric Unit is located at 112 East Post Road, 4th Floor, in White Plains. The office is staffed daily by a board-certified pediatrician and one or more registered nurses. Children are seen during regular business hours for scheduled check-ups and sick visits, and early morning or evening appointments are offered three times per month. A pediatrician is available at all times by phone for concerns that arise after hours, on weekends and on holidays. Children can be seen on Sunday mornings at a private office in Hawthorne, NY for urgent sick visits.
DSS PEDIATRIC UNIT CONTACT INFORMATION
Phone Number: (914) 995-5379
Fax number: (914) 995-3045
LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION
PEDIATRIC UNIT MEDICAL STAFF
DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES
Since 2006, the Educational Care Coordination (ECC) program has provided educational coordination for all children in family foster care in Westchester County. We strive to minimize disruptions in a child’s education when they enter or return home from foster care and advocate for appropriate services in order to meet children’s educational and developmental needs by:
Obtaining all previous school and medical records for each child entering foster care.
Creating a Pupil Summary Form for each child entering foster care that summarizes all relevant academic and developmental information in an easy to access format. Providing recommendations to caseworkers, foster parents and schools so that a child receives the most appropriate academic placement and services. Attending IFSP, CPSE, CSE and other school meetings to advocate for appropriate educational services
Referring at-risk students for academic remediation services.
The Learning Evaluation and Achievement Program (LEAP) provides a range of interdisciplinary assessment and treatment services to children in family foster care who are experiencing problems in academic performance due to learning disabilities, or other developmental issues that impact learning. Individualized tutoring is provided by LEAP staff in our after school program located at WIHD’s Valhalla location. Instruction based on the most recent research on effective teaching is used to design and implement individual, developmentally appropriate programs to strengthen academic skills. Students receive tutoring in a 1:1 setting.
ADULT CAREER AND CONTINUING EDUCATION SERVICES VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION (ACCES VR)
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION LEGAL CENTER FOR FOSTER CARE & EDUCATION
CASEY FAMILY PROGRAMS
NATIONAL HEAD START ASSOCIATION
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH – EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM
THE FOSTERING CONNECTIONS RESOURCE CENTER
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’S OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
WESTCHESTER COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM
RESOURCES FOR YOUTH WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES IN THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM
Youth with disabilities in foster care require special attention as they transition to adulthood. To find useful tools and resources that promote a person-centered approach to case planning, follow the link below. These materials were developed collaboratively by WIHD and the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester.