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Wednesday, Apr 6, 2016

Berkshire Launches Family Crisis Intervention Program in Dutchess County

POUGHKEEPSIE—A collaboration between Berkshire Farm Center and the county government means that Dutchess County families in crisis will have rapid access to special, individualized services to help keep them together. Launched last month, the Dutchess County Pathways program provides crisis intervention, assessment, and in-home services from Berkshire Farm Center’s family experts.

The program is funded by an $850,000 grant from the Dutchess County Department of Community and Family Services. It responds to a need for community-based family services identified by Dutchess County. Ultimately the program will serve roughly 80 families who might not otherwise get timely help.

“We are excited by this opportunity to bring our prevention services to Dutchess County,” said Lucas Jacobs, Director of Statewide Prevention and Non-Secure Detention Programs at Berkshire. “The county has been wonderful to work with, and we are now collaborating with them to meet family needs quickly and effectively.”

Power of collaboration

Prior to the program’s launch, Dutchess County reached out to Berkshire to look for ways to better support its families. County officials were impressed with Berkshire’s Pathways programs already thriving in other regions of the state, and the two entities are excited about this partnership.

According to Stacy Williams, Vice President of Community Programs at Berkshire, the partnership is off to excellent start. “There is power in our collaboration with Dutchess County that works to ensure that the children and families we serve live safely and productively.”

“Pathways is a strength-based program focused on home,” Williams said. “It takes place in the home, and it empowers youth and families to remain together safely in their home.”
Williams explained that the strength of Berkshire’s prevention programs rests on outstanding Family Specialists.

“They not only have knowledge, empathy, skills,” she added. “But they are willing to roll up their sleeves to do what it takes to help families be successful.”

The program offers counseling, parenting skills, and crisis management; however, it also has transportation and a flexible schedule so families can take part without having rearrange work hours or school activities.

“Traditionally, family services can be very cookie cutter,” said Jacobs. “Our program is flexible so we can adapt it to a family’s individual needs.” 

"Speed is key, explained Jacobs. “Families typically are referred from Child Protective Services,” said Jacobs. “We meet their needs right away. Because we know that if families have to wait for help, they are more likely to be pulled apart and see the children taken out of the home.”

Eight family specialists, a community care specialist, a program coordinator, and an administrative assistant will staff the program. Each family specialist will stay with their assigned families through the program.

“We’ll help families slowly step down services so they can get used to less contact gradually,” Jacobs added. “We believe this helps them be more successful in the long term.”

Making community connections

The support doesn’t end after the year or so that families spend in the Pathways program. As they prepare to leave the program, Berkshire works with them to set up plans to connect them with resources in their home communities.

These include mental health and abuse services, faith-based organizations, and other resources that provide long-term support.

“Because our team helps families adjust the amount of care they need from high to low over time, they tend to be more comfortable when they are ready to leave the program,” said Jacobs. “They have new skills, knowledge and resources as a family, and they’re ready for success.”

—Sydney Lester


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