By Alice Kenny
The New York State National Alliance on Mental Illness honored Astor Services for Children & Families’ Early Head Start Program, an affiliate of Catholic Charities NY, on May 7 for their work successfully addressing the issues of children’s mental health. This includes early identification, outreach, family education, providing mental health awareness in schools, and successfully intervening on behalf of afflicted children and their families. Astor Services received this award during a reception at the 2013 “What’s Great in Our State – A Celebration of Children’s Mental Health Awareness,” at the New York State Museum in Albany.
Astor’s Early Head Start Program serves over 200 infants, toddlers and their families in seven sites across Dutchess County. Astor has operated the Head Start Program in Dutchess County since 1978 and later assumed responsibility for the Early Head Start Program. Head Start and Early Head Start are federally-funded programs for low-income families.
The children in Astor’s Head Start and Early Head Start Programs receive mental health screening through collaboration with Astor’s Hudson Valley Behavioral Health & Prevention Programs. This program provides early identification and intervention of social emotional problems in children, ages 2 to 18, through the Child and Family Clinic Plus Program (Clinic Plus). This program is a state-wide initiative by the Office of Mental Health to furnish mental health services for children and families.
“On behalf of the children, families and staff, I am delighted to receive this recognition,´ said Mary Sontheimer, Assistant Executive Director, Astor Services for Children & Families, Early Childhood Programs. “These are the issues at the core of our Early Head Start Program: social emotional development, health relationships and positive attachments for children. All stakeholders in our program play a critical role in ensuring optimal mental health and positive self-esteem.”