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Virtual Building Bridges Conference Highlights Mental Health Resources and Encourages Inclusion

Published: 10/22/2021

Poughkeepsie, NY…  County Executive Marc Molinaro today welcomed attendees to the 13th annual “Building Bridges” conference, which serves as an opportunity to explain programs and services available to children and youth in Dutchess County, offer workshops to further knowledge, and enhance relationships between schools and the community to provide positive outcomes for youth and their families. 

Some 150 educators, school administrators, guidance counselors, case managers, and social workers, as well as several partner agencies attended the virtual event, co-hosted by the Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) and Astor Services for Children & Families, which continues throughout this afternoon.
County Executive Molinaro said, “It is very important that the mental health of our local children remains a priority. Now more than ever, children need access to mental health services to help them succeed in all facets of life. Because of that, this year’s ‘Building Bridges’ conference is such a vital annual resource for schools, mental health providers, and most importantly for youth and their families. We are grateful to Astor Services for their support this year and thank everyone for attending.”

This full-day conference was designed to provide attendees with community resources for dealing with trauma, reducing risk, and intervention/diversion services for troubled youth. Keynote speaker Alice Coleman, a Certified Fearless Coach, discussed fear and it how it works in levels, providing attendees with an understanding of how to deal with fear but also take risks. 

This year’s event included Dutchess County’s Supervisor of Probation and Community Corrections, Karen DeSimone, who discussed the Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) Diversion program, which is utilized by local schools. This voluntary program at the Office of Probation, was designed to help connect at-risk youth with community services to address their needs. Schools are encouraged to refer students, who meet the criteria, to the program if the student is exhibiting a pattern of behavioral issues or truancy in school. 

DBCH Clinical Director of Coordinated Services, Christopher St.Germain, PhD, discussed the County’s trauma-informed organizational care initiative and provided training and discussion on topics relating to cultural diversity, specifically LGBTQIA+ youth. DBCH’s hope is that education and discussion on this subject may help to facilitate more inclusive service and support delivery across Dutchess County and better meet the unique needs of this community.