Join over 300 representatives from family peer support providers, family members, youth and professionals from the children’s behavioral health and other cross-system children’s services at this statewide event and stay abreast of the many challenges and opportunities facing children, youth and families as health and behavioral health services continues to move toward an integrated system of care. We encourage New York State Family Peer Support Providers, Youth Peer Advocates, Health Plans, Health Homes, and other service providers to attend and receive pertinent education & information on services, collaborations and practices in our children’s health and behavioral health system.

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Click each conference track below to view the upcoming workshops

Family & Youth Track

Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation Program (CPEP): What is it?

  • Program overview of Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation Program (CPEP): What is it? This presentation is to provide an understanding of the role of a CPEP in the broader community-based service arena. There are preconceived ideas and misperceptions on what the focus of a CPEP is and what service(s) are delivered. The presentation will include assisting in recognizing when individuals may benefit from a CPEP evaluation and review of OMH CPEP regulations

Understanding Your IEP: Working Together to Create a Meaningful IEP

Presented by: Lourdes Rivera-Putz, Senior Advisor, United We Stand of New York

  •  Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) are designed to support students who receive special education services and work towards preparing students for life after high school. This interactive workshop will answer the following questions: How do you know a student is making progress towards their IEP goals? When you go over your child’s IEP… can you picture how the development of the IEP is setting up for life after high school? We will spend the bulk of the time taking policies and putting those policies to create a sample IEP that will be meaningful for you/ your family.

Supporting Mental Health Recovery & Creating Cultures of Whole-Family Health That Benefit All

Presented by: Shantalee Martinez, Mental Health Community Partners Trainer, Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

  • Workshop attendees will experience MHCP interactive program activities that respond to recovery and support participants at each stage on the continuum of wellness. These activities provide opportunity for not only workforce & professional development, but also personal self-care as the programs emphasize a peer approach – leading by example and practicing the wellness strategies taught to families. Attendees will learn of opportunities to become certified Mental Health Community Partners and/or dual-certified CarePath Coaches to bring these programs to their agencies, communities, and families.

Navigating the Discharge Process: Examining Peer Support for Families of Individuals with First Episode Psychosis

Presented by: NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Mary Acri, Research Associate Professor; Priscilla Shorter, Family Connector and Parent Advocate; Meggin Rose, Family Connector; Tanya Hernandez, Family Connector 

  • This presentation will provide details about the study, its progress and challenges, and will include presentations by several Family Connectors who are currently delivering the program. Emphasis will be placed on the process of providing direct peer-to-peer support to caregivers, modifications required to optimize fit, and ways to improve the implementation of caregiver support in OTNY. The presentation will discuss the complexities of navigating services as young adults transition into the adult system.

A Desk of Her Own

Presented by: NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Mary Acri, Research Associate Professor; Priscilla Shorter, Family Connector and Parent Advocate; Meggin Rose, Family Connector; Tanya Hernandez, Family Connector 

  • A personal discussion about our family’s experience navigating the special education system from Early Intervention to the transition into Kindergarten with our daughter who is diagnosed with Autism and ADHD. Having a child with a disability is challenging in and of itself, but a child with a dual diagnosis creates another level of challenges and systems to navigate. Participants will hear about our personal challenges and conflict with our local school district that pushed our daughter out of school, and significantly impacted her outlook on school. Our story takes you along on our journey, riddled with frustrations, anger, heartbreak and shows you how we came out on the other side with a positive outcome.
    Workforce Track

    Gender and sexuality: Creating inclusive and affirming environments for all

    Presented by: Karen Fuller, FPA-C, Family Peer Advocate, Q Center at ACR Health

    • A guide to LGBTQ+ allyship, and creating safe, inclusive, and affirming environments for all. Presentation covers Q Center services, terminology, statistics, and best practices for affirming environments.

    Family Development Credential Training and Opportunity

    Presented by: Priscilia Romano, Parent Advisor, FTNYS, NYC, Kim Kaiser, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion,  FTNYS

    • Presentation of the Family Development Credential Training and Opportunity for Agencies & Programs to Register

    And Ain’t I A Woman?: Creating Brave and Honest Spaces and Avoiding Harm For and Of BIPOC Womyn in the Workplace

    Presented by: Zaynab Hamin-Gilliam, Community Health Worker, Brooklyn Perinatal Network; Denise Griffin, Family Peer Advocate, Brooklyn Perinatal Network

    • Much research has been done on systemic racism and the harm it can and has done to BIPOC populations. Far less conversations are happening around the harm (microaggressions, sexism, ageism and the internal colonization and racism) the systems we work in do to BIPOC workers. The goal is to begin to create a brave and honest space for workers about the harm being caused (by funders, supervisors, co-workers, by ourselves) within (the workplace) to help inform better and less harmful practices to families, youth and individuals.
      Family & Youth Advocate Track

      Building Bridges Between Child Welfare and the Communities they serve

      Presented by: Tanya Hernandez and Melinda Agnew, Family Policy Advisors Families Together in New York State

      Disrupting Stigma within Mental Health and Neurodiversity

      Presented by: Danyale Sturdivant, LCSW

      • Understanding the history that contributed to stigmatizing diagnosis within mental health, autism, and other neurodivergent disorders within historically marginalized communities of color, systems, and media and how we can break the chains that contribute to inequitable access, treatment, and intercultural stigmatization and bias to improve outcomes for all.

      The Future of Peer Support: Together embracing the journey forward

      Presented by: Amanda Saake, LMSW, CPRP, NYCPS-P Chief Advocacy Officer
      Office of Advocacy and Peer Support Services; Imari Wilson, Youth Peer Engagement Specialist,Division of Integrated Community Services of Children and Families, SOC Pilot Project

      • Representing the Office of Advocacy and Peer Support Services and The Division of Integrated Community Services for Children and Families.
        Together, as peers we will provide an overview and history of the NYS OMH Office of Advocacy and Peer Support Services. Join us in discussing the lifespan of Peer Support Services, as well as highlighting a future vision and journey embracing Family and Youth voice and engagement.

      Mental Health Awareness Through Superheroes

      • Superheroes may seem inhuman on the surface, yet they mourn loss and fear trauma, leading to some powerful fiction about the nature of strength, pain, and humanity. How many of us are wearing a mask to hide mental health challenges? Load your mental health toolkit with some evidence-based superpower solutions.

      Building Advocacy Skills and Student-Centered Transition Planning with Young People with Disabilities

      • In this session, family and youth educators from INCLUDEnyc share information on legal provisions under IDEA as well as practical ways that families and professionals support young people with disabilities in developing the skills and experience needed for transition from school to adulthood. We will include the voice and perspective of our professionals and of the youth with disabilities with whom we engage in this work (youth to either attend in person, or through pre-recorded video, depending on health concerns and other factors).
      Youth Track

      What “doing the work” means in recovery

      Presented by: Pin Pashoukos (They/Them)/ Ashton Dailey (He/Him)

      • This workshop discusses the importance of recognizing the work people in mental health recovery are doing while they are in recovery Many believe that you can simply “get over it” when it comes to trauma or mental health but that is not always the case. We aim to provide the space for family members and other young people to discuss what “doing the work” looks like and how clinical providers can begin to recognize their efforts as actual work!

        How can youth use community supports to gain independence

        Presented by: Luis Evans & KimAlysha Seligmiller

        • This will be a panel discussion featuring young people from a variety of youth serving systems to discuss how they utilized the resources in their own communities to gain independence

        Tacos , and Peaches , & Eggplants , OH MY! How to take control of your sexual health and encourage your peers to do the same.

        Presented by: Kate Thorpe, RN, Albany Medical Center, SCCAYA

        • 1. Basics of sexual health including STIs, safer sex practices, etc. to ensure participants are prepped with the correct information to take back to their peers
          2. How to advocate for your own sexual wellness: Consent; Open communication with partner (add section on health relationships); Routine testing; Being open and honest with your medical provider; Risk reduction strategies including condom negotiation
          3. How to have “the talk” with your peers: Taking a sex positive approach; Normalizing different sexual practices and reviewing the importance of 3 site testing; Discuss different risk reduction strategies; Knowing your resources for care

        Navigating and Building Sustainable Networks

        Presented by: Ketrina Hazell, RCWT & Elizabeth Slusarz, Executive Director, Disability Champions Mentoring Network, Doctoral Student University at Albany/ Board Member Disability Champions Mentoring Network.

        • Navigating and building a sustainable network can help young people feel the support of a community while maintaining the agency to make decisions and address self-determined goals. Sharing lived experience and engaging in interactive activities of self-exploration participants will consider the levels of trust and range of individuals in their networks or who could be a part of their sustainable networks.

        “Because I Said So”: Exercising Self-Advocacy for Transitional Aged Youth

        Presented by: Gabriel Jackel-Dewhurst, Western Regional Youth Partner, Youth Power of FTNYS

        • The objective of this workshop is to empower transitional aged youth by introducing self-advocacy skills that can be used to address power dynamics from adults. The workshop will begin with a brief presentation about advocacy and power dynamics transitional aged youth may face. Then presenters will initiate role play with attendees and encourage engagement. The workshop will conclude with a discussion about what was learned.

        Marriott Albany
        189 Wolf Rd,
        Albany, NY 12205


        Families Together 2023 Conference group rate:
        $114 USD/night

        Sponsor & Exhibitor Information

        Families Together is seeking sponsors and exhibitors for the Albany conference. This year more than ever it is critical that families and youth receive information about your services to explore successful collaborations between New York State Family Peer Support programs and health plans.

        For more information on sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, click here.