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Virtual Building Bridges Conference Encourages Coordination and Cooperation

Published: 10/16/2020

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus, Communications Director

(845) 486-2000

Poughkeepsie, NY…  County Executive Marc Molinaro offered welcoming remarks at the 12th annual Building Bridges Conference, which continues throughout the day, today.  Like many other events in 2020, this year’s Building Bridges Conference was offered in a virtual format and attended by nearly 150 educators, school administrators, guidance counselors, case managers, and social workers, as well as several partner agencies. Co-hosted by the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) and Astor Services for Children & Families, this conference is designed to preserve and enhance relationships between schools and community organizations.  

County Executive Molinaro said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has posed what seems like innumerable problems, of which one of the most pressing issues is the mental health of our children. So much has changed in a short time, including how we deliver vital services, and as many individuals receiving these services rely on consistency and routine, it’s become vitally important to develop new strategies to help them successfully adapt and not slide backwards in their progress. Because of that, this year’s Building Bridges Conference may have been the most important one yet. We are grateful to Astor Services for their support this year and thank everyone for attending.”

This full-day conference is designed to provide attendees with community resources for dealing with trauma, reducing risk, and intervention/diversion services for troubled youth. Keynote speaker Dr. Todd Karlin, Chief Program Officer at Astor Services, discussed new observations regarding mental health, and how to deal with trauma and the delivery of services during this pandemic.

Dr. Karlin said, “During this pandemic, the prevalence of remote learning, and the uncertainty surrounding in-person studies has put tremendous stress on not only our children, but on the staff working to teach and support them. This conference helps bring service providers, educators, and support staff together to develop better ways to communicate with each other and help our students succeed in these uncertain times. I thank County Executive Molinaro for his support and commitment to mental health services and for hosting this event to encourage communication and collaboration.”

This year’s event also features Dutchess County’s Assistant Commissioner for Youth Services, Karmen Smallwood, discussing the County’s Path to Promise initiative, and breakout sessions this afternoon on a variety of topics including the importance of self-care, local school operations during the pandemic, and changes to legislation about truancy and PINS (persons in need of supervision) and how each affect school service providers. Attendees will also participate in virtual networking to further promote collaboration and information sharing.

Deputy Commissioner of DBCH, Dr. Jacqueline M. Johnson said, “The Building Bridges Conference is just one of the ways Dutchess County continues to make connections, works to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, and encourages cooperation and the sharing of innovative ideas. We are proud to have adapted this event to a virtual format to continue the tradition of effective collaboration.”