Child Welfare Services
Newsletter - Winter 2019
A Visit with County Executive
George Latimer
On February 8th, Child Welfare staff had the opportunity to meet with County Executive George Latimer. County Executive Latimer was joined by several key members of the Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS), including DSS Commissioner Kevin McGuire and DSS Deputy Commissioner John Befus. During the meeting, WIHD staff provided County Executive Latimer with an overview of the services and programs offered through the Child Welfare program and the ways in which WIHD collaborates with DSS to meet the goals of ensuring safety, permanency and well-being for children in the child welfare system. We greatly appreciate County Executive Latimer's time and interest!
Escaping from the Office - and from Grand Central - At Least for a Day
Kudos to the winning team!
An enthusiastic crowd of about 20 Child Welfare staff members, interns, externs, and post-docs, gathered in New York City on November 30 th to take a break from the daily routine and to unwind together as a group. This retreat was the most recent in a long series of similar events that have included cooking demonstrations, winery tours, picnics, nature walks, and even an overnight stay at the serene Omega Institute, in Rhinebeck, NY.

This particular retreat felt a long way from bucolic Rhinebeck, but it was no less enjoyable. The group assembled in Grand Central Station, whereupon they were met by a boisterous and entertaining group leader from Watson Adventures, a local tour company that organizes scavenger hunts for small groups. On this day, the CWS group was divided into teams and then challenged to “escape from Grand Central” – preferably, before any of their CWS competitors had a chance to do so! Common sense, ingenuity, team-work, and problem-solving techniques – not to mention a gung-ho attitude – were all employed to complete the hunt. Ultimately, only one team came out victorious, but all had a great time.

Following the Grand Central adventure, the group strolled to Kellari , a nearby restaurant serving fine Greek cuisine. There, everyone enjoyed a delicious, leisurely lunch and lingered in the restaurant, talking, laughing, and taking a break from it all. As always, staff were excited for the opportunity to spend a full day outside of the office and to connect with other colleagues. Such opportunities are really invaluable, especially given the emotionally difficult situations encountered by CWS staff on a near-daily basis. The staff is grateful to WIHD leadership, and especially to CWS Director Danielle Weisberg, for making the CWS retreat a department staple, year after year. 
Heartfelt Thanks
The Winter Edition of our Newsletter would not be complete without a heartfelt thanks to our many donors this past holiday season. 

Kathleen Kaiser once again organized a Holiday Toy Drive with the parishioners of the Church of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Shrub Oak, NY. These gifts were brought to WIHD by the Crompond Cub Scout Pack 238, under the guidance of Cub Master Brian Dever. 

For our “Adopt a Family” program, a number of individuals from both WIHD and externally generously donated a number of presents to families involved in the Every Family Counts Aftercare Program and Project IMPACT. Donors included: 

  • Mariela Adams - Community Support Network
  • Deb Marino, Maleeha Arshad, Marianne Ventrice, Darlene Beattie, Donna Reynolds, Danielle McFadden, Stephanie Bader & Nicole Turygin
  • Children's Advocacy Center
  • Courtney Berry
  • Karin Carroll, Dental Services
  • MGroup
  • Cappelli - Denise Ciraldo
  • Sue Dukhedin, Family Connection
  • Speech & Hearing Department
  • Lyn Burt & Friends
  • Xiomara Rojas, Family Connection
  • AnneBeth Litt, Medical Primary Care
  • NY Medical College Speech Pathology students
  • Sue Fox, Donna Lombardi & Cindy Lopane

1st (Annual?) Ugly Sweater Contest
This holiday season, Child Welfare Services added a new component to their Holiday gathering-an Ugly Sweater Contest, spearheaded by Educational Coordinator, Kelli Jardim. Staff wore a variety of Ugly Sweaters, from store bought apparel to DIY garb. The competition was fierce, but ultimately Kelli Jardim was named as winner, with Karen Redondo Garcia coming in as a close second. Interested in taking over the title as Ugly Sweater winner? It's never too early to start working on next year's sweater!

Trupti Rao, Psy.D., and Beth Reiman, Ph.D, LCSW, along with former WIHD psychology post-doctoral fellow and LEND trainee Ashley Ausikaitis, Ph.D., recently had an article published in Social Work.  The article entitled, “Child welfare caseworkers and children with developmental disabilities: An exploratory study,” summarizes a study done with 251 child welfare caseworkers from the Hudson Valley region regarding their knowledge, exposure, and comfort levels of working with children with developmental disabilities.    Findings indicated caseworker agreement with the importance of having increased knowledge and training around children with special needs in the child welfare system. To read a copy of the article or for more information, please contact or

Project IMPACT is excited to announce a collaboration with researchers from Boston University School of Social Work and Montclair State University. With support from a grant that was awarded through the Boston University Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health, the research aims to gather further evidence to support the benefits of using specialized and intensive parent training to support parents with intellectual disabilities.  The research will run through the 2019 year. Stay tuned for findings! 

Staffing Updates
In January, Child Welfare Services was pleased to have a new Social Worker join the Project IMPACT team, Theresa Fitzpatrick, LMSW. Theresa comes to WIHD after a number of years working as a consultant to ACS in NYC. Welcome Theresa!

We are grateful for Iona College students Kathleen Lino and Isabella Lopane who volunteered their time at Child Welfare Services recently by organizing and sorting the children’s library in the Child Welfare Services reception room. Thanks to their time and organization skills, the children can now find the books by category and special interest!