Monday, September 26, 2016

NYSPEP Member Spotlight: Laurie Rivera

Laurie Rivera, Families Together in New York State

Laurie Rivera has served Families Together in New York State (FTNYS) for over 13 years. She is also a member of the NYSPEP Steering Committee and has volunteered to be the Announcer for the upcoming 2016 Strong Roots training institute in Latham, NY. 

In her current position as Program Manager with FTNYS, she manages the Family Peer Advocate Credential and the Parent Empowerment Program, in addition to the Information and Referral Line. She also co-coordinates the Legislative Awareness Day and Family Peer Support projects, and serves as staff liaison for the Board of Directors. 

Laurie brings a wealth of both lived and professional experience to her work with families and hopes that every struggling parent has a support person to lean on and empower them to be their own best advocate for their child. She was crowned “Mother of the Year” in 2016 at the Albany Tulip Festival and is the mother of four children. 

NYSPEP Member Spotlight: Gail Volk

Gail Volk, NYS Education Dept., Office of Early Learning
Gail Volk currently serves the Office of Early Learning at the New York State Education Department, where she is a member of the Upstate Review Team in the Office of Accountability. She also serves on the NYSPEP Steering Committee and is an active member of NYSPEP's Professional Development workgroup.

Previously, Gail helped to develop and implement health policies for the Western Suffolk BOCES school districts focusing on low-income areas. She also served as Executive Director of the Community Wellness Council of the Bellmores and Merricks, which fostered physical and emotional wellness. She developed partnerships among five school boards, the Parent-Teacher Association, clergy, legislators, and parents, who played a large role in social norms.

Additionally, Gail is a past President of the Child Care Council of Nassau and Director of Scholarships and Development for the American Foreign Service Association. She earned her Master’s in Higher Education Administration at New York University and holds a N-6 Teaching Certificate.

As a mother of two, Gail understands that becoming a parent can be a huge adjustment. Reflecting back on her experience as a new mother, she recalled one day in February when she looked out the window only to realize she needed to dress her infant baby from head to toe just to walk to the mailbox! After her second child, Gail moved to Long Island. There, apart from family and friends, she sought-out the support of community- and parent-resources with the intention of becoming the best nurturing parent she could be.

Gail is pleased to announce the availability of a diagnostic tool to map family and community engagement at:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Announcing NYSPEP Strong Roots Professional Development Training Institutes

NYSPEP "Strong Roots" Last a Lifetime professional development trainings provide high-quality content developed by experienced professionals. Topics focus on the realities families face and are associated with effectiveness in parenting education.
Many parents find it difficult to prepare their young children for school success, and can be baffled or even intimidated by the school culture. This one-day institute will share information about the social and emotional development of both parents and their children, provide new strategies that can assist in helping parents support their school-age children, and will reveal the "hidden rules" that govern school relationships with parents.

"Helping Parents Prepare Young Children for School Success" will be repeated in four locations to increase access to parenting educators, family service providers, and para-professionals who support parents / primary caregivers in their role of nurturing children:
Start off with a facilitated panelist forum, composed of a regional mix of invited experts including: Pyramid Model trainers, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support specialists, and NYSPEP Credentialed Parenting Educators.

In the afternoon, participants attend the afternoon workshop of their choice: Birth to Pre-K with a focus on school readiness -OR- Kindergarten to Grade-6 focused on helping parents support their child's learning. Each workshop will impart specific skills, tools and resources to use with parents and primary caregivers of children for the selected age group. Participants will also have opportunity to connect with others and share during process activities and breaks.

For more information and to register, please visit
Advance pre-registration is required. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Applications for NYSPEP Mini-Grants Now Available

2016-2017 NYSPEP Mini-Grants Are Here!

The New York State Parenting Education Partnership (NYSPEP), through funding from the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH), is once again pleased to offer NYSPEP Mini-grants.

A limited number of grants, of up to $2,000 each, will be awarded to service providers in New York for the purpose of increasing access and/or reducing barriers to participate in evidence based and promising parenting education programs that support parents and primary caregivers of children in their role.

Awardees will also be eligible to present a poster session at the 2018 New York State Child Abuse Prevention Conference, slated to be held in the Capital District in the Spring.

In awarding these grants, NYSPEP is interested in how the funds will increase access and/or decrease barriers to participate in quality parenting education programs that promote one or more of the five Strengthening Families Protective Factors. NYSPEP is also interested in evidence that the funded program has a positive impact on parents' lives. Mini-grant funds are expected to be used with other funding or in collaborative work to support sustainability.

Please visit where you can find:
  • 2016 Mini-Grant Application (fillable form*)
  • 2016-2017 Reporting Template Sample
  • Additional information including previous awardees
At least one grant will be awarded in each of the five OMH regions, if applications that meet eligibility and application requirements are received from each region. Applications received by 5:00 PM, Friday, October 14, 2016 are eligible for consideration. 

Selected applicants will be notified by email on November 23, 2016 with awards to follow by postal mail. The expenditure period starts December 1, 2016 and ends September 30, 2017. Reports are due October 15, 2017.

If you have a question, please email: with the subject line: Mini-Grant Question.

Timeline Reminder for 2015-2016 Awardees

For those who received a mini-grant during the previous award cycle for 2015-2016, please note the important dates below.
  • Expenditure Period Ends: September 30, 2016
  • Reporting Template Due: October 31, 2016
2016-2017 Applicants can download and type directly into the fillable application form. Toggle back and forth between fields using the "tab" key to advance or the "shift" + "tab" keys to return to the previous field. Save the completed application file and email as an attachment to: with the subject line: 2016 MG APP. Options to submit by fax or postal mail appear on the application form.

Monday, August 29, 2016

9/12 - SUNY Albany School of Social Welfare Presents Two Back-to-Back Workshops

On Monday, September 12, UAlbany's Continuing Education program presents two workshops by Charles Appelstein, MSW, an experienced national trainer and youth care specialist who has worked in child welfare for over 25 years.

"The Glass Ain't Half Full. Heck It's Overflowing!" Understanding & Responding to Kids & Families with Emotional & Behavioral Challenges Using a Positive, Trauma-Informed, Strength-Based Approach

8:30 AM - 12:30 PM. This workshop centers on the strength-based approach and incorporating positivity and creative cognitive behavioral strategies into individual practice with youths. 

"Use the Force, Luke!" Managing Number One, First & Staying Motivated to Make a Difference

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM. This workshop focuses on difficulties one faces when working with at-risk populations and provides strategies for self-management.

For more information and to register, please visit

Monday, July 18, 2016

Online Course on Responding to ACEs Across the Lifespan

Restorative Integral Support for Post-Trauma Wellness: Responding to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Across the Lifespan 

Accumulated adversity and trauma in childhood is strongly associated with mental health, substance abuse, serious health problems, and homelessness. These interconnected concerns call for a comprehensive approach to helping people. The Restorative Integral Support (RIS) model guides the selection of interventions and services that can be combined within a flexible framework. Ideally, the whole community would be engaged in ACE Response

This free asynchronous online course was developed by Heather Larkin, Ph.D., and her team at the University of Albany. While designed for social service providers and program directors, this course can be useful for other family support providers. Continuing Education Units are optional and available for a fee at the conclusion of the course.

This training addresses intervention selection, leadership, policies, and organizational culture with an emphasis on provider self-care. The modules offer additional resources such as videos, webinars and articles. Complete the quizzes to advance to subsequent modules and accumulate credits towards optional continuing education hours.


  • Learn how research informs social work programs and practice that respond to the adversity and trauma characteristics / backgrounds of those served 
  • Describe how “Restorative Integral Support” (RIS) applies research to assist families in achieving wellness after trauma and the potential for resilience and recovery 
  • Identify and apply key elements of RIS to assessment and post-trauma wellness practice and program planning 
  • Learn about emerging practices for supporting post-trauma wellness: the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Integrative Restoration (iRest), Somatic Experiencing (SE), and Mindfulness Meditation (MM)
  • Learn how to identify and increase opportunities for interagency collaboration, including provision of mutual support among agency leaders with coordinated advocacy efforts and strengthening knowledge of program and community services
  • Identify and describe how your own self-care, relationship-building and role modeling skills contribute to a culture of recovery and wellness in your agency or community as well as specific ways that prevention of vicarious traumatization supports your ability to live up to the National Association of Social Workers’ ethical principles 

Module 1: ACE Overview explores the ACE Study, different ACE categories, prevalence of ACEs and their impact on society, and efforts to reduce and prevent them. 

Module 2: ACEs, Toxic Stress, and Consequences further explores ACEs, the neurobiology of early life toxic stress, and some of the long-term consequences of high ACE Scores.

Module 3: ACEs and Service Implications explains how and why service delivery systems are being transformed to address ACEs and the characteristics of an ACE-informed program.

Module 4: Resilience and Recovery covers resilience, protective factors, post-traumatic growth, and ways to support resilience and recovery.

Module 5: Self-care and Vicarious Trauma teaches you to stop, breathe, reflect, and apply information from previous modules to yourself while emphasizing how self-care is key to living well and effectively and ethically helping others.

Module 6: RIS Overview builds on previous modules, highlighting how implementation of RIS includes a culture of recovery helping to break ACE trajectory.

Module 7: RISing Program Leaders reveals what supports a RISing leader and how RIS guides program development.

Module 8: Evidence-Supported Interventions (ESI) overviews and offers examples of ESIs and examines how RIS guides their use.

Module 9: Emerging Practices offers examples of emerging practices through a RIS lens. 

Module 10: Community Examples of Holistic ACE Response illustrates community movements that promote holistic ACE Response, stressing how you can contribute to, and/or start, community efforts to reduce and prevent ACEs. 

Module 11: ACEs and Homelessness discloses the relationship between ACEs and homelessness and reviews ACE-informed homelessness programs that use the RIS model. 

Module 12: ACEs and Healthcare justifies how and why healthcare providers would respond to ACEs and clarifies some of the challenges faced by healthcare providers engaging in ACE Response efforts.

Module 13: Course Review and Applications demonstrates identifying RIS elements in real world program examples

Online Registration Instructions 

  1. Create an account at 
  2. Click the confirmation link that will be sent to you in order to automatically log into the University at Albany Moodle site 
  3. Scroll down to “Course Categories”
  4. Click the “School of Social Welfare” folder
  5. Click the course title
  6. On the subsequent page, look for the section titled “Administration” and click “Enroll me in the course”
  7. Scroll down to select the blue “Enroll me” button. 
The course may be stopped and returned to at any time. 

QUESTIONS? Please email 

CEU APPLICANTS: If you’re applying for CEUs at the end of the course, you’ll receive 12 Self-Study CE hours when you have successfully completed all course module content and quizzes, and have paid the associated fee ($180 for NYS social workers -or- $90 for UAlbany SSW field instructors). Please email after you’ve completed payment to request a certificate by email. The University at Albany, School of Social Welfare is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

New York State Department of Health: Preventing Zika Virus Infection in Pregnant Women

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has taken actions to detect and prevent Zika virus infection in pregnant women. 

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito and has been known to spread through sexual transmission as well.
The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after onset and many people may not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

Infection with Zika virus during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. For these reasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NYSDOH recommend special precautions for pregnant women.

To date, all cases of Zika virus detected within the continental United States, including New York, have been travel associated. Therefore, women who are pregnant should not travel to areas of the world with Zika virus transmission. However, if a pregnant woman or her male partner must travel to one of these areas, precautions should be taken to prevent Zika virus transmission through mosquito bites and sexual transmission.

Below are links to the poster (appearing above) that conveys this message, and is intended to serve as an educational tool that may be used to educate pregnant women regarding potential exposure to Zika virus and the potential risk of infection for her unborn baby.