News Archive 2009 - 2013

Adopt-A-Family 2013 is Underway Now

November 2013

Adopt-A-Family: Make the holiday season a little brighter this year!Each year, Astor’s holiday Adopt-A-Family program helps many of Astor’s neediest children and families enjoy a better holiday season.

This year we’ve added even more ways that you can help. What better way is there to celebrate the season? Please join us — get started right now!

Astor Family Magazine – Fall 2013 Issue is Here

October 2013

Read the latest issue of Astor Family Magazine

Astor Family Magazine Fall 2013You can find this issue available throughout our area, or read the online version here »

“In any year, between 13% and 20% of children in our country experience a ‘mental disorder.’

Emotional and behavioral struggles in American youth include the significant presence of substance use and abuse, risk-taking behaviors, and suicide. At Astor Services for Children and Families, we know these struggles well and are committed to walking the road with these youth and their families so they can find ways to heal and regain hope.”

writes Dr. Suzanne Button, Assistant Executive Director, Quality & Clinical Outcomes, Astor Services for Children & Families, in the new issue.

Special Visitors From Korea

September 16, 2013

On Monday, September 16, 2013, we had a very special visit from employees of the National Youth Healing Center in South Korea. The Project Coordinator (and translator) Sung-Won Min and seven others spent the day on an extensive tour of Astor, specifically focusing on the Residential Treatment Center.

The National Youth Healing Center in South Korea is developing their own Residential Treatment Program and came to Astor to learn more about ours and how we operate. Sung-Won Min is a long time friend and colleague of Athena Drewes, Astor’s Director of Clinical Training and APA -Accredited Doctoral Internship, and when the need arose to learn more about residential programs Astor was the logical choice.

The day was primarily spent asking questions of our staff, from the most basic, “What is Astor’s mission?” to the more complex on how we run our program and why.

Family Fun Day – A Success!

September 18, 2013

Family FunOn Saturday September 14, 2013 we hosted Family Fun Day! The event included all day entertainment, food, vendors, and games and crafts for kids.

What amazed the over 230 people that attended was the admission price, which was FREE! Along with free admission, everyone was entered into a free raffle, in which there were more than 20 donated prizes. With performances by the Big Joe Fitz Band, M*Power Dancers, Rat Boy Jr., and Illusionist Ryan Dutcher there was entertainment to keep everyone dancing and enthralled.

While there were fun and games at the event, the main purpose was to help end the stigma around children’s mental illness. Representatives were present from Dutchess County Office of Mental Hygiene, Lexington Center for Recovery, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Nutrition and Advocacy Programs, Dutchess County Healthy Families, and Astor to provide information and support so that mental illness can be better understood and not looked down upon.

“We hosted this event to provide educational and recreational opportunities for families so they can get to know what kinds of services are available in Dutchess County,” said Trish Luchnick, Astor’s Director of Family Driven Care. “Because of the stigma involved, families often have difficulty reaching out for help when they are confronting behavioral issues.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration, there are an estimated 21.4 million adults in the United States with serious psychological distress. The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health identified stigma as one of the most pervasive barriers “to understanding the gravity of mental illness and the importance of mental health.” 

Astor’s Empty Chairs = Lost Opportunities Event

September 9, 2013

play this video
View “Neighborhood News” video coverage of this event.

All six of our Head Start Programs participated in the Empty Chair = Lost Opportunities event on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 2:00 PM, by displaying empty seats outside their buildings. This represented the 86 slots that were cut in our Head Start and Early Head Start Programs in Dutchess County due to budget cuts forced by Congressional inaction.

Parents, legislators (State Senator Terry Gipson and Assemblyman Frank Skartados), staff, community partners and volunteers were on hand to take part in this effort to call attention to the tens of thousands of children who have been cut from Head Start and Early Head Start Programs nationwide due to sequestration.  

State Senator Terry Gipson and Assemblyman Frank Skartados both showed support in presentations, but it was the three parents who spoke on the impact the cuts have had on them. One family said their child can no longer attend because transportation was cut from the budget and they do not have a car to transport their child. This will further impact this family because they counted on the two meals per day their child received.

According to Mary Sontheimer, Assistant Executive Director, Astor’s Early Childhood Programs, “In Dutchess County, this loss resulted in a $340,000 reduction in funding, which means that 86 youngsters in the county will nolonger be receiving services at our Head Start and Early Head Start Centers.  Funding remains for only 563 children. We also lost 22 staff positions.” Sontheimer goes on to say that “the cuts came when a deadline for adopting the federal budget passed last April, triggering so-called ‘sequester’ reductions for various federal programs, including Head Start and Early Head Start.”

Developmental Screenings at the Dutchess County Fair

August 16, 2013

We will have our own booth this year at the Dutchess County Fair. Stop by our booth where we will be providing free developmental screenings for children and teens. 

Learn more here.

Our Latest Annual Report is Out

July 2013

Report highlights stories of success.

Astor 2011-2012 Annual Report“I am proud to present to you our annual report. In the following pages you will learn more about how we are making a significant impact on the lives of thousands of kids and families – work you kindly make possible through your support. I hope you will be inspired to continue your involvement with us.”

James McGuirk, Ph.D.
Executive Director / CEO

Read the full report here

Report highlights:

Astor provides a safe environment where traumatized children get to heal the deep damage done by abuse and neglect:

The Impact of Healing:
A Note from a Former Residental Student

Astor believes trust is the foundation on which every lasting relationship stands. When you believe without question in the honesty, ability, strength, and reliability of another person – or of an organization – you have trust:

Vincent’s Story:
A Strength-Based Approach

Success in Learning equals Success in Life! At Astor, we believe giving children the space and the tools to learn and to express themselves are essential for their success:

Early Childhood Programs:
The Importance of Involving Fathers in the Early Years

Read our complete annual report here

“Astor Family” Magazine- The Second Issue is Here

June 26, 2013

Magazine CoverThe second issue of the “Astor Family” magazine is available to read here!

At Astor we belive one of our first steps in demystifying mental health issues is to begin to discuss them openly. Services and tools for children and families are offered to help them deal with these issues. 

Writes Sonia Barnes-Moorhead, Executive Vice President.

White House Conference on Mental Health

June 3, 2013
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – June 3, 2013

New Federal Website and SAMHSA’s Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health Announced. 

Click here to read a PDF version of this story.

Obama Calls for End of Mental Health Stigma

June 3, 2013 – June 3, 2013

President Barack Obama said Monday that he wants to end the stigma of mental illness and enrolled the star power of actors Bradley Cooper and Glenn Close at a White House conference organized in response to the December shootings at a Connecticut elementary school.

Click here to read a PDF version of this story.

Astor Held 15th Annual Stenberg Golf Tournament

June 11, 2013

Astor Services for Children & Families held their 15th Annual Stenberg Cup Golf Tournament on Monday, June 10, 2013 at Trump National Golf Club in Hopewell Junction.

Astor Services for Children & Families held their 15th Annual Stenberg Cup Golf Tournament on Monday, June 10, 2013 at Trump National Golf Club in Hopewell Junction.  The monies raised through this event will provide the children at Astor with programs and services they need to succeed.

The fun-filled day consisted of 18 holes of golf. The weather held out, allowing the golfers to complete play that was followed by a cocktail reception and dinner.

The tournament also had several contests — a putting challenge and a hole-in-one where the winner would have received a vehicle donated by Rhinebeck Ford. There was a raffle with many nice items and the live auction includes a foursome to Trump National Club Westchester; Four New York Yankee Tickets; and a foursome at Streamsong and Saddlebrook in Florida (this included a weekend stay at the Sheraton in Tampa).

Astor would like to thank their major sponsors for this event: Adam’s Fairacre Farms; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York; M&T Bank; McCarthy’s Pharmacy; and Rose & Kiernan, Inc. 

Mental Health is in the News – Removing the Stigma

June 4, 2013

Discussion on mental health issues are taking front and center, especially as it relates to educating the public on what it is and in particular, attempting to remove the stigma often associated with the words “mental health!”

Discussion on mental health issues are taking front and center, especially as it relates to educating the public on what it is and in particular, attempting to remove the stigma often associated with the words “mental health!”

On this matter, we are delighted to see the issue of mental health being addressed on many fronts: the federal government has launched a new website solely dedicated to providing mental health information at This site also provides  advice, support and forum for questions and conversation.

At the same time, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a Toolkit for Community Conversations about Mental Health. The goal of this toolkit is to provide communities with the correct information when they want  to start conversations about mental health.

On June 3rd, President Obama announced his intensions to end the stigma that surrounds Mental Health saying “There should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people we love. We’ve got to get rid of the embarrassment. We’ve got to get rid of that stigma.”

For more about President Obama’s end to the Mental Health stigma please Click Here.

More information on SAMHSA and their toolkit can be found on their website. Click Here.

Please visit the federal government’s new website,, for more information on mental health and to find resources you may need.

LaGrange Church to Host Notre Dame Folk Choir Concert

May 22, 2013

The Notre Dame Folk Choir, a 45-member student ensemble of vocalists and musicians, will appear in concert May 31 at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Roman Catholic Church.

Notre Dame Concert Program

The Notre Dame Folk Choir, a 45-member student ensemble of vocalists and musicians, will appear in concert May 31 at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Roman Catholic Church.

The concert is hosted by the Notre Dame Club of the Mid-Hudson Valley, Saint Kateri church, Astor Services for Children and Families, and Catholic Charities. Proceeds will benefit programs and services funded by the four organizations.

To read more please Click Here.

Astor Opens New Children’s Mental Health Clinic, Ulster County

May 17, 2013

Astor Opens New Children’s Mental Health Clinic, Ulster CountyRibbon Cutting, Ellenville

Astor Services for Children & Families’ celebrated their new Children’s Mental Health Clinic in Ellenville, NY, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM at 50 Center Street, Trudy Resnick Farber Bldg., Ellenville, NY.

On January 1, 2013, Astor began providing Outpatient Mental Health Services to children (ages 2 – 21) in Ulster County. The clinics are located in Ellenville, Kingston and New Paltz. In addition to mental health services, Astor provides group therapy services to families through the Families Together Program. This program provides family support, advocacy and a skill building program to children and their parents with recreational activities at the Kingston YMCA. Funding for these services are generated from Medicaid, Insurance or Self-Pay.


Center: Dr. James McGuirk, Executive Director/CEO, Astor and County Executive Mike Hein; Right: Jeff Kaplan, Village Mayor (Ellenville); representatives from Ulster County Mental Health Department Amy McCracken, Program Supervisor Clinical Services and : Cheryl Qamar, Deputy Commissioner; Left: Dr. Gus Tsoubris, Associate Executive  Director, Dr. Carol Smith, Ulster County Mental Health Department and other representatives from the community and Astor.

To read more about the ribbon cutting ceremony please Click Here.

Third Annual Cabaret

May 5, 2013

The Third Annual Cabaret

Magee Hickey, daughter of Lawrence F. Hickey, and Reporter for PIX 11 News, along with her newscaster colleagues from New York’s television stations will be singing in a Cabaret to raise funds for Astor’s Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development in the Bronx (LFHC).

Magee Hickey, daughter of Lawrence F. Hickey, and Reporter for PIX 11 News, along with her newscaster colleagues from New York’s television stations will be singing in a Cabaret to raise funds for Astor’s Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development in the Bronx (LFHC).

The cast of the Cabaret included: Jodi Applegate, Linda Church, Kirstin Cole, Jay Dow,  Mr. G., Sukanya Krishnan, Dan Mannarino, Monica Morales, Greg Mocker, Mary Murphy, Dr. Sapna Parikh, Frances Rivera, Marvin Scott, Howard Thompson, Kristin Thorne, Stephanie Tsoflias, and many surprise guests; including some of Astor’s children singing as well! 

To learn more about the Cabaret event Click Here.

Highlights from the Cabaret

May 9, 2013

Watch some highlights from our Cabaret!

Did you miss the our Cabaret event?

If you did don’t worry! We have video clips available to watch! 

Click here to watch PIX11 footage from the event.

Or you can watch a video of Magee Hickey’s performance by clicking here.

We also have photos of the event available for viewing, just visit our Facebook page by clicking here.

Original artworks are still available for purchase! Click here to view them on our SmugMug page. You can also order prints or note cards of the artwork.

Astor Dutchess Co. Head Start Now Accepting Applications

March 27, 2013

Astor Services for Children & Families is now accepting applications for their Head Start Program in Dutchess County.

Head Start logoApplications are being taken NOW
(For children who will be 3 years old by December 1, 2013)

Head Start is a federal funded early childhood program for low income families.

Head Start Centers are located in:
Poughkeepsie, Red Hook, Pine Plains, Millerton, Wingdale, Beacon & Wappingers Falls

To find out more call:

What is Head Start?
Head Start is a federally funded early childhood program for low income families. It is a preschool developmental program of early childhood education and ancillary services including health (physical, dental, mental), nutrition, and social services, with extensive parental involvement and participation. Children with disabilities are served within a fully integrated setting with non-disabled children.

What schedule does a Head Start Program follow?
Our Programs follow the standard school year calendar with a High Scope Curriculum. Both breakfast and lunch are provided during this part-day program and bus transportation provided (if available).

What services are available to a child in a Head Start Program?
Children in our Programs are provided with vision and hearing screening, Mental Health Services, Family Services Support, and a curriculum that guides them to a discovery approach to learning.

Are there any other services provided?
Parents are provided with meetings, workshops, and home visit services. 

If you would like more information on our Head Start Programs please CLICK HERE.

Astor Board Member Applauds St. Nick’s Craft Fair

December 10, 2012

In her most recent blog entry, “They Came for the Gifts and Got so Much More,” current board member, Susan Ragusa, highlighted the true meaning of the craft fair.

St. NicksShe writes, “Buying holiday gifts for friends and loved ones, will directly benefit recreation and family-strengthening activities for Astor clients … At Astor, this giving spirit is not only felt during the holiday season. The craft fair is, as I say, a 360-day event.”

To read her entire blog click here.

A Special Thanks to Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck, NY

November 26, 2012

Laura Pensiero, owner of Gigi Trattoria, and her staff, donated a lovely Thanksgiving dinner for 50 children (and staff) in our Residential Treatment Programs who were with us during this holiday.

Last week, Gigi’s delivered free range turkeys (already prepped to cook aloGigi Thanksgiving Drop Offng with cooking instructions), stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, vegetables, (string beans with shallots and lemon zest), cranberry sauce, gravy and rolls!

On behalf of the children and staff, we would like to send a heartfelt thanks to Laura and Gigi’s staff, who donated portions of their tips, for making this Thanksgiving memorable for our children!

Ribbon Cutting and Dedication Featured in the Daily Freeman

October 23, 2012

In “Today’s News Briefs for Rhinebeck, Ulster, Kingston, and New Paltz,” the Daily Freeman featured Astor’s upcoming ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the new living quarters at the Rhinebeck Residential Treatment Facility.

The ribbon cutting will take place at the RTF in Rhinebeck on Friday, October 26, 2012, at 12:30PM.

To read the full article click here.  

Dr. Jim McGuirk’s Interview to be Featured on Cablevision

October 3, 2012

Dr. McGuirk’s interview about the Astor Family Magazine will be featured on the Cablevision Network Tomorrow.

Dr. McGuirk was interviewed today by our local Cablevision Network in the Hudson Valley on the launch of Astor Family Magazine.

His interview can be seen tomorrow night every hour beginning at 5:00 PM until 11:00 PM on channels 6 and 18 (depending on your viewing area). We will also have a copy uploaded to our website in the coming week.

Astor Family Magazine Receives Accolades in Susan Ragusa’s Blog

October 3, 2012

Susan Ragusa, a current member of the Astor Board of Directors, applauded Astor’s new magazine, Astor Family, in her blog “Cause & Event.”

She writes,

“Astor Family Magazine is the first of its kind for a nonprofit in the Hudson Valley. This touch of corporate social responsibility truly brings everything full circle—organization, corporate sponsor, community recipients, and local consumers—to inspire action from all stakeholders.”

Read her full blog-post here

A printed copy of Astor Family can be found at local cafes, libraries, and medical offices. An e-version can be found on our website

New York Time Op-Ed Discusses the Effects of Trauma on Kids

October 1, 2012

David Brooks outlines the health risks that come with growing up after a traumatic event.

In his article in the September 27th edition of the New York Times, Brooks posed striking statistics about the relationship between childhood trauma and adulthood health issues.

“Childhood stress can have long lasting neural effects, making it harder to exercise self-control, focus attention, delay gratification and do many of the other things that contribute to a happy life.” 

David Brooks is an op-ed writer for the New York Times and was the keynote speaker at the Annual Public Policy Breakfast hosted by Astor and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce on March 8, 2007.

Yale Child Study Center Features Astor IICAPS Services

September 28, 2012

The center hails Astor as the first Intensive In-Home Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Service in New York State.

Yale School of Medicine logoAstor Services for Children and Families has become the first Intensive In-Home Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Service (IICAPS) site in New York State. Astor employees recently completed training at the Center and will continue to receive assistance in the implementation of the model, data collection and monitoring from the staff of IICAPS.

Read the entire article on the Yale School of Medicine’s website

Astor Launches New “Astor Family” Magazine

September 2012

The Fall 2012 inaugural issue of “Astor Family” Magazine is here and we couldn’t be prouder.

Astor Family Magazine Fall 2012Astor Services has launched a new magazine, “Astor Family”.

Read this issue (5.4Mb) or pick up a copy at one of many locations in our area.

We will highlight and include stories that are of interest to our community. While some of our stories will highlight the difference Astor’s programs are making on children and families, our hope is that all the stories and sections (i.e., advice, etc.), will be an inspiration to all.

writes Astor’s Executive Director and CEO Dr. James McGuirk.

Astor Receives Grant from American Mental Health Foundation

August 8, 2012

Dr. Suzanne ButtonThe American Mental Health Foundation announces a multi-year study of Early Identification and Palliative Care for Psychotic Disorders in Children and Youth.

Under the supervision of Astor’s Dr. Suzanne Button, this study has as its goal the development of palliative strategies for at-risk youth.

The American Mental Health Foundation is a research organization based in New York City. With over 85 years conducting research in the mental health field, AMHF is dedicated to the welfare of people suffering from emotional problems, especially the disabled and elderly.


Watch this Web site for developments: HERE

Seeking New Members & Opportunities

August, 2012

The Astor Parent / Consumer Board is seeking new members and opportunities to serve children and families.

CircleThe Astor Parent Consumer Advisory Board is made up of past and present care-givers of children who have utilized Astor’s programs.

The members of the Advisory Board meet monthly to review agency programs, proceedures, and policies to ensure that the family perspective is included in the decisions that are made.  Meetings also allow time for members to socialize, network and share experiences over dinner in a relaxed atmoshpere.

The Advisory Board is seeking new members and new opportunities to serve children and families. We are open to change in order to include you. If you are interested in learning more about the Parent / Consumer Advisory Board, please contact:

Trish Luchnick
Director of Family Driven Care
Astor Services for Children & Families
845-452-5969 Ext. 112

Goals for Family Driven Care:

When & Where

We meet monthly on the 4th Tuesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm

Family Resource Room
13 Mt. Carmel Place
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

A Special Thank You to Our 2011-2012 Donors & Volunteers

July 18, 2012

Many thanks to all our donors and volunteers during our 2011 – 2012 fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012! Some of our foundation donors include:

Robin Hood, New York, NY:

Robin Hood LogoOur grant in the amount of $225,000 from Robin Hood is supporting our Transitions Program in the Bronx. This program helps children with serious emotional problems transition from our Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development and our Early Childhood Day Treatment Program to public school.

The Lawrence F. Hickey Center provides early childhood and mental health services to a special group of 3-5 year old children with emotional and cognitive needs. These children display a range of behaviors that impact on their ability to develop or attain age-appropriate cognitive and social skills. Typically, they have been rejected from nursery programs and kindergarten after a few weeks of enrollment.

Many of the children in this program are in kinship foster homes and have lived in impoverished environments characterized by violence, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. Children in Astor’s Day Treatment Programs, in three locations in the Bronx, ages 5 – 12, come from the same background, with many in the foster care system living with kinship foster families or with other families in the community. The primary goal of these programs is to teach children the skills necessary so that they can transition to a less restrictive public school environment.

“I can’t begin to thank Robin Hood for their investment in our work! Robin Hood’s overarching goal is to elevate poverty in the New York City area, which truly aligns with our overarching goal for the children in our Bronx programs, who have severe emotional and behavioral disorders, graduate high school,”

says James McGuirk, Ph.D., Executive Director/CEO, Astor Services for Children & Families.

McGuirk goes on to say that Robin Hood’s grant will help Astor provide additional supportive services to the identified children as well as allow them to capture data that will show the impact Astor is making on the lives of these children and their families.

Dyson Foundation, Millbrook, NY

Dyson Foundation LogoThe $45,000 grant we received from the Dyson Foundation is supporting our bi-lingual Parent Infant Educator (PIE). The PIE works with children zero – 5 years old, and their families, through our Enhanced Childhood Coordinated Services Initiative (ECCSI).

The program gives families increased access to community-based support, to improve local decision making so that services are effectively and efficiently coordinated for families; to decrease referrals to the social service systems and to identify gaps in services. Included in this program are two network processes: “Tier 1” network is made up of front line providers who offer relevant services to assist specific children and families; and the “Tier II” network consists of county-level leaders who are committed to the goals of having fewer children in foster care, fewer referrals to Child Protective System and fewer families entrenched in the social service system.

“There is a need now more than ever for sustaining the Enhanced Childhood Coordinated Services Initiative and we are thankful to the Dyson Foundation’s continued support of the bi-lingual PIE, who will continue the important work she is doing in the community – providing an intensive program of home-visits to support the parent and child attachment and bonding process serving our children and families who continue to be among the poorest and most underserved. Dyson’s continued support of this key position will allow us to continue this very important work,”

says Konstantinos (Gus) Tsoubris, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director. Astor‘s Hudson Valley Community-Based Behavioral Health and Prevention Services.

Countess Moira Foundation, New York, NY

The $25,000 grant we received from the Countess Moira Foundation will support the following activities in our Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development (LFH) Program in the Bronx:

Parent Child Interactive Therapy – Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Training – PCIT is a proven parent-child treatment program that assists parents by giving them the tools to work with their children with behavioral problems (aggression, non-compliance, defiance and temper tantrums). Astor’s Bronx Program has been using this training for several. PCIT and has been making an impact on our children and families.

Creative Arts Therapy and Performance – The arts play a very important role for our children and contribute greatly to their creativity and ability to express themselves through treatment. It is used throughout the children’s treatment at Lawrence F. Hickey Center (LFH). Our Art Therapists and music teacher will work with the children throughout the year on special projects where they will be asked, for example, “to paint how you feel.” These targeted projects will culminate into an art show and music performance, where family members, donors, volunteers, etc. will be invited to the “opening reception.” The art show will be on display for several months at the LFH.

Building Families (Family Fun Day) – Children in our LFH Program, their siblings and parents (guardians) as well as our Tilden Program, will have the opportunity to interact with each other (and staff) in a fun-filled day that includes entertainment, games, food, etc.

Foundation for Community Health

FCH LogoThe $45,000 grant we received will allow our psychiatrics to consult with our children’s pediatricians to further enhance the collaboration in treatment of our children.

Congratulations Dr. Joan DiBlasi

June 20, 2012

Astor’s own Dr. Joan DiBlasi is the 2012 recipient of the Founders Award from The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc.

coalition ny logoThis Wednesday, June 20, in NYC. Dr. DiBlasi will be recognized by The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. for her outstanding contributions to the field of mental health.

Dr. DiBlasi has been a member of the Coalition for over 30 years. She has served as Board Member, Chair of the Children’s Committee and Chair of the Regulatory Committee.

Dr. DiBlasiDiBlasi has always focused on children and families as primary partners in the mental health service delivery system, including children’s outpatient services and children’s day treatment. 

She received her Master’s Degree from SUNY, Albany and her PhD from Brunel University in the United Kingdom. She is motivated by her commitment to life long learning.

While at Astor she has been the Assistant Executive Director for its Bronx programs. She has embraced the pursuit of evidence-based practices and has sought to involve families as partners in decision making and planning for their own care.

“You have to have a real passion and desire to be inclusive to be a professional in the field of social work and mental health. It’s the only way you make contributions to individuals and to society as a whole.”

Dr. DiBlasi Receiving AwardDiBlasi follows the traditional Irish music scene in the Hudson Valley and the greater metropolitan area playing the Bodhran with local session musicians.

She has also taught the Bodhran at the Arts Center in Manhattan and the Tara Circle in Yonkers. 

Dr.DiBlasi receiving the Founders Award.


Astor Children’s Art Show Was a Huge Success!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Seven Astor Students Take The First Step Toward Becoming Artists!

Art Show Guests“Paint What You Feel”, a group show based on the abstract paintings of Gerhard Richter, gave viewers a chance to see inside the hearts of these 8-12 year olds.

Freed from the challenges of representational art, the freshly emerging painters worked with rollers, scrapers and Richter’s trusted friend, the squeegee. The result: an immediate expression of their emotions.

Young ArtistThe show opened with a reception at the Children’s Art Gallery in Rhinebeck on Sunday May 20th. Attendees from across the country purchased original pieces and prints.  Nearly all of the 28 paintings sold.

The proceeds from this event went to support the Recreation Programs at the Residence in Rhinebeck, NY.

Astor Hosts Community Wellness Conference

May 19, 2012

Astor Services for Children & Families’ Parent/Consumer Advisory Board hosted a community conference on Wellness this past Saturday, May 19th. The conference was planned, hosted, and facilitated by parents and family members of children with mental illness. About 30 family members, youth and family advocates attended.

Dutchess County Legislator Michael KelleyDutchess County Legislator Michael Kelsey was the keynote speaker, Kellsey is a caretaker of a family member with mental illness.

Michael talked about his role both as a legislator and personal advocate, and how he has worked to improve local access and services for the people in Dutchess County.

Michael also spoke about the Wellness Model, a shift in focus that stresses the strength of the individual, and not the illness.

Michael talked about overcoming stigma and taking a positive approach to looking at the future for people with mental illness. He also shared some of his personal experiences as a caretaker, stating that he does not see that person as the illness, but as a loving family member.

Katie, a young woman from Dutchess County that has personally battled mental illness and substance abuse also spoke. She shared her journey from sadness and hopelessness to the present, where she is a successful student at Marist College.

Katie talked about the importance of accepting her illness as part of her personality, and not blaming herself or being a victim. At one point she stated that her opportunity to reach out to other young people and offer hope is part of the “blessing” of her mental illness.

Child thinkingDuring the break before going to community discussion, one of the youth attending asked if she could speak. Her sincerity and insight was inspiring. A group conversation followed on topics such as local resources, family support, stigma, education, family relationships, and positive thinking.

After the break Ms. Brenda Tracy-Maetta, Early Recognition Program Screener for Astor Services For Children & Families, spoke to the participants about her program and the importance of early detection and intervention.

Family on beachBrenda spoke about her efforts to link with other community child care services to help educate, support and raise awareness on childrens mental health issues.

Overall we feel the response to the conference was very positive; with people reporting that they felt encouraged and hopeful after attending.

Head Start Accepting Applications Now!

May, 2012

Dutchess County Head Start Program is now accepting applications for children who will be three by December 1, 2012!

Child SmilingOur Dutchess County Head Start Centers are located in Poughkeepsie, Red Hook, Pine Plains, Millerton, Wingdale, Beacon & Wappingers Falls. 

Call to find out more:  (845) 452-4167

You can learn more about Astor’s Dutchess County Head Start program by visiting this page on our website.

Here are some of the benefits that you and your child receive as part of the Dutchess County Head Start Program:

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

May 6-12, 2012

Green Ribbon LogoThe National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health declares the first full week in May as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

This week is dedicated to increasing public awareness about the triumphs and challenges in children’s mental health and emphasizing the importance of family and youth involvement in the children’s mental health movement.

For more information on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, visit the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health website.

For National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2012, Astor is working to focus attention on the importance of screening programs to facilitate the early recognition of emotional issues in children, and to educate the public about Astor’s Early Recognition Screening Program.

Astor’s Early Recognition Screening Program: 

Confidential, early-recognition and intervention that partners with families and communities to facilitate the early recognition of emotional issues to provide for subsequent intervention with the child, family and caregivers. Our program offers:

Screening: Screening takes place in schools, health centers and other community locations to reach children early who may have emotional needs.

 • Assessments: To identify needs and strengths of both child and family. Assessments are comprehensive and are conducted on an as-needed basis.

Open Access Clinics: Immediate access to services is available to all new clients. A client will be able to access care by “showing up” at the counseling center between the hours of 9 AM and 2 PM and will receive the next available appointment.

For more information on our Early Recognition Screening Programs, contact:

Brenda Tracy-Maietta, Clinic Screener

Astor Services For Children & Families
Dutchess Counseling Centers
13 Mt. Carmel Place
Poughkeepsie, NY. 12601
(845) 452-6077 x 111
Fax: 452-6235
Email: BTMaietta [at]

Screening number: (845) 891-9557

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is designed to spread the messages that:

Magee Hickey Hosts Caberet For Astor’s Lawrence F. Hickey Center

April 14, 2012

Singing Pix 11 Newscaster, Magee Hickey, and colleagues host Caberet for Lawrence F. Hickey Center

On April 14, 2012, singing Pix 11 Newscaster, Magee Hickey, and her colleagues performed in a caberet to raise funds for the Lawrence F. Hickey Center in the Bronx.

Among the talented performers were: Debra Alfarone, Ernie Anastos, Jodi Applegate, Linda Church, Kirsten Cole, Jay Dow, Tamsen Fadal, Mr. G., Sukanya Krishnan, Katie McGee, Dan Mannarino, Monica Morales, Greg Mocker, Mary Murphy, Dr. Sapna Parikh, Frances Rivera, Andrew Siff, Marvin Scott, Howard Thompson, Kristen Thorne, Kaity Tong, Stephanie Tsoflias, and more.

Astor’s Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development serves children with behavioral and emotional needs from ages 2.9 years to kindergarten.

“Mr. Hickey Day” Celebrated At Bronx’s Lawrence F. Hickey Center

March 30, 2012

Children Celebrate Birthday Of
Great Astor Humanitarian, Lawrence F. Hickey

Mr. Hickey DayChildren at the Lawrence F. Hickey Center had a wonderful time celebrating Mr. Hickey’s birthday on March 30, 2012. They wore red, Mr. Hickey’s favorite color, in his honor.

Lawrence F. Hickey, who passed away in 2011, was a member of the Astor Board of Directors from 1981 until 2004, and a dedicated humanitarian. He was committed to making the world a better place for children and their families.

Mr. Hickey played a major role in assisting Astor in acquiring the “Little Red School House” from the City of New York. In 1991, Astor’s Early Childhood Program was renamed the Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development.

Astor Co-Hosts the 9th Annual Public Policy Breakfast

March 16th, 2012

Children Who Fail In School But Succeed In Life w/ Dr. Mark Katz

Sonia Barnes Moorhead, Dr Mark Katz, Dr James McGuirkThe 9th Annual Public Policy Breakfast, hosted by Astor Services for Children & Families and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, took place on Thursday, March 15, 2012 at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. Dr. Mark Katz addressed an audience of business and community leaders on the topic, “Children who Fail in School but Succeed in Life: Advances in our Understanding of Human Resilience.”

Dr. Katz’s presentation focused on the challenges children face in schools and how schools can turn around the lives of children. The presentation was enthusiastically received by the audience who went away with some concrete examples on how the community can work together to help promote school success.

Public Policy Breakfast full shotDr. Katz is a clinical and consulting psychologist in San Diego, CA and author of On Playing a Poor Hand Well (W.W. Norton & Co., 1997.)

For the past 24 years, Dr. Katz has served as the Director of Learning Development Services, an educational, psychological and neuropsychological center in San Diego.

“I believe all kids, given the right environment and support, can be successful, as highlighted during Dr. Katz’s presentation. Astor has programs that support this success,”

says Dr. Jim McGuirk, Executive Director, CEO, Astor Services for Children & Families.

After the Breakfast, Dr. Katz held a special workshop, sponsored by Astor, entitled, “Changing the Odds, One School Day at a Time.” It was attended by mental health professionals, nurses, psychiatrists, students, interns, teachers, parents, school clinicians and educators. It provided lessons learned from those who have overcome adverse childhood experiences and illustrated ways of incorporating these lessons into existing systems of care.

Donors Give 1,000+ Children & Families a Brighter Holiday Season

January 2012

More than 1,000 children and families had a brighter holiday season thanks to the many individuals, schools, youth groups, churches and businesses who played “Santa” through Astor Services for Children & Families’ 2011 Adopt-A-Family and Holiday Programs. The support of our generous donors helped to make the holidays warm and merry for some of Astor’s neediest children and families.

The community showed its support once again, in so many ways: gifts were collected from workplace toy drives and churches. Many companies and individuals adopted families or children and donated toys, home goods, and other items. Well over 1,500 children and parents had a brighter holiday season this year due to the tremendous outpouring of care and generosity.

This year, some families and organizations adopted all the children in an entire Astor program; they purchased and delivered gifts and provided entertainment for the children.

“I am in awe of the generosity and kindness of our donors who truly made this holiday season a memorable one for our children and their families. I want to thank all our past and new donors who participated in our holiday programs which truly make a difference in so many lives. It shows how our community cares about children and families in need. We, at Astor, truly appreciate the community’s continued support.”

said James McGuirk, Ph.D., Executive Director/CEO of Astor Services for Children & Families.

Astor extends its heartfelt thanks to all the individuals and the following organizations for their generous support and compassionate dedication to the success of our community’s families:

Board Co-Chair Ann Armater “Woman of the Year” Award Winner

November 2011

Astor Congratulates Board Co-Chair Ann K. Armater on her being named “Woman of the Year” by the American Association of University Women

Ann ArmaterThe Poughkeepsie branch of the American Association of University Women honored Ann K. Armater as the 2011 Woman of the Year at a luncheon Saturday at the Villa Borghese.

Armater is the founding executive director of the Foundation for Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie and the vice president for development for Health Quest.

Armater, a development officer with 30 years’ experience, began her career as a professional fundraiserwith United Way of Tri-State. She lives in Poughkeepsie with her husband, Ray, and their three daughters, Elizabeth, Olivia and Madeline.

To read this story on the Poughkeepsie Journal click here

Visit American Association of University Women’s Website HERE

Astor Wins Dutchess Business Excellence Award

October 18, 2011

Astor's Brendan Sullivan
Brendan Sullivan, Astor Services director of admissions and
consumer relations, talks with students Devon, 9, and
Maya, 11, this month in the library at the Rhinebeck campus.

We are proud to announce that Astor Services For Children & Families is the winner of the Business Excellence Award for nonprofits by the Dutchess County Economic Development Corp.

James McGuirk, Executive Director and CEO, explains Astor’s mission: “From our beginning, our founders have been committed to providing a level of care and treatment and education to those people who typically have not had the support or who have lived on the fringes, or kids who have suffered from emotional or behavioral difficulties. We’ve always been committed to excellence.”

Read a Poughkeepsie Journal article about Astor’s award HERE

“Read-In” for Children at the Lawrence F. Hickey Center

October 13, 2011

Astor Host’s “Read-In” for Children at the Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development in the Bronx.

On Thursday, October 13th,  Astor hosted a fun “Read-In” for Children at the Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development with Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D), who represents the 36th Senatorial District; Greg N.I.C.E., celebrated Hip Hop wordsmith and pioneer rapper; Sean Hennessey, CBS 2 News; and Magee Hickey, PIX 11. It was a great day and the children enjoyed the books that were read and the performances.

Read In

View a VIDEO and comments from event participants

Support ADHD Awareness Week

October 16-22, 2011


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a serious public health issue. Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States has concluded that it is a real, brain-based medical disorder and that children and adults with ADHD benefit from appropriate treatment.

Support ADHD Awareness Week by learning-and sharing-the facts:

Jan Weido 1951-2011

October 1, 2011

Astor Mourns the loss of Jan Weido

Jan Weido

It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of a very important member of the Astor Community – Jan Weido – on October 1, 2011.

Jan was an asset and important figure to Astor in many ways, and especially to the Residential Programs. He was the head of Recreation for the Residential Programs and an Astor employee for 25 years. Jan embodied the core values of Astor and was always striving to do what was best for the kids.

He will be missed.

James McGuirk,
Ph.D.Executive Director/CEO
Astor Services For Children & Families  


Find Jan’s obituary in the Poughkeepsie Journal HERE

Ground Breaking for Construction of New Children’s Residence

September 14, 2011

Astor Services for Children & Families broke ground September 13, 2011 for the construction of its new Residential Treatment Facility.

According to Jim McGuirk, Ph.D., Executive Director/CEO, Astor Services for Children & Families, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to build new living quarters for the 20 children in our RTF Program. The current living spaces in our historic Rhinebeck location have been retrofitted over the past 50 years and are no longer fully meeting the needs of the children.”

Legislators at Ground Breaking
photo ©Joel Weisbrod

(In photo above: Dr. Jim McGuirk, CEO/Executive Director; Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Board Member; Scott Cruikshank, Kirchhoff-Consigli; William Steinhaus, Dutchess County Executive; Ms. Ann K. Armater, Board Co-Chair; Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro; and Jay Deising, Architect with Mauri Associates; Children of Astor)

Ground Breaking Ceremony at Astor
photo ©Joel Weisbrod

(In pho Ms. Ann K. Armater, Board Co-Chair; Board Members Scott D. Bergin, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, J. Joseph McGowan, Julie H. Krieger, Susan J. Ragusa, Virginia H. Sibbison ; Dr. Jim McGuirk, CEO/Executive Director; Charles R. Daniels III, Board Member)

Dr. McGuirk goes on to say, “Construction of the new building will not increase the number of children we serve – this number will remain the same. Rather, the new living units will allow us to further meet our commitment to provide the best quality service in the best possible environment.”

Astor’s RTF is a 24-hour treatment facility for children from the Hudson Valley Region and New York City. The children range in age from 5 – 13 at the time of admission and must have a diagnosed, severe emotional disturbance/mental illness. When there is evidence of a need for treatment beyond what could be provided in a less-restrictive setting and the child’s behavior is such that they can be maintained safely in open-treatment surroundings, Astor’s RTF is most suitable.

On hand at he ceremony were several representatives from the local legislators, New York State Office of Mental Health, Department of Mental Hygiene, Astor Board members, staff, children from the RTF Program, and Kirchhoff-Consigli Construction Management of Pleasant Valley, the construction manager of the project.

Residential Treatment Program Reaches Out To Families

August 2011

Astor has expanded the section of our website dealing with our Residential Treatment Facilities and our school, the Astor Learning Center.

Astor Residential Treatment Program: the Astor Learning Center

photo ©Joel Weisbrod

“The need for residential treatment services is large, but finding the right place for your child is very difficult. We’ve expanded the coverage of our Residential Programs to make it easier for families in need to find out more about all that Astor has to offer.”

says Brendan Sullivan, Director of Admissions & Consumer Relations for Astor’s Residential Programs.

Visit our expanded website section to learn more about Astor’s Residential Treatment Programs and Astor Learning Center school facilities.

Astor’s Head Start Program Benefits from Rachel’s Generosity

June 2011

Rachel delivering books to Astor's Head Start programRachel Krumholtz, a student at Dutchess Day School, decided that instead of gifts for her eighth birthday party, she would ask her friends to bring books to be donated to other children who might be less fortunate. Rachel chose the children at Astor’s Head Start program in Poughkeepsie to be the recipients of her generosity. Head Start is a federally-funded program for children from low-income families.

On June 17th, Rachel and her mother, Pramila, visited the school and donated over 40 books!

Rachel also read her favorite book “Muncha, Muncha, Muncha,” to 18 children. The children loved it and Rachel did a great job!

Rachel and her mom also had the opportunity to tour the building and enjoyed seeing the nurturing rooms and other Head Start classrooms.

“Rachel had a wonderful experience reading to a well mannered and polite group of kids. Thank you for providing this opportunity,” said Pramila.

Rachel reading to the children

13th Annual Stenberg Cup Golf Tournament A Success

June 2011

Astor students golfingSeveral children from our Residential Programs, who have been taking golf lessons from Ivar Zirnis, PGA Teaching Professional, came out to hit some balls during our 13th Annual Stenberg Cup at Trump National! They had a great day helping with the putting contest and practicing on the driving range.

A great time was had by all who attended the Tournament. Thank you to all of our supporters!

Click here to see more pictures.

Special thanks to our 13th Annual Stenberg Golf Tournament Sponsors:

The monies raised through this event will go toward the children’s Arts and Music Programs. The Arts play a very important role for our children and contribute greatly to their creativity and ability to express themselves.

Astor students golfing

Auction Winners Enjoy Lunch with Magee Hickey

May 2011

Kim and Nicole enjoy lunch with Magee HickeyDuring Astor’s Cabaret fundraising event on May 21st, Kim Billelo and her daughter, Nicole, won the auction item “Lunch with Magee Hickey.”

On June 16th, Kim and Nicole had lunch with Magee at Vivolo in NYC where an enjoyable time was had by all!

“She is the nicest person,” says Kim!

Magee is indeed! After talking about her dog Sonia during lunch, Magee invited Kim and Nicole to her apartment to meet her!

New York Road Runners Club Sponsors Astor Mighty Milers

May 2011

Astor's Mighty Milers teamA group of Astor’s students and staff from the Shakespeare School/PS199x in the Bronx have been participating in the Mighty Milers program sponsored by the New York Road Runners Club. In as little as 15 minutes a day, Mighty Milers gives kids the opportunity and encouragement to get moving, release energy, improve their fitness and health, set and strive for individual goals, and bond with their schoolmates.

On Sunday May 15th, a group of Astor’s Mighty Milers were invited to the New York Road Runners Youth Jamboree at the Icahn stadium on Randall’s Island.

You can view a slideshow HERE

Rain or shine, the team put forth their best efforts! Two team members won second place ribbons in the 200 and 100 meter dash, and one Mighty Miler earned first and second place ribbons in the 100 & 200 meter dash. Everyone received ribbons for participating and completing their race at the finish.

Many parents came to support their Astor Mighty Milers and everyone showed support for each other during all of the races. It was an awesome opportunity for everyone who attended.

Magee Hickey & Co. Sing Out for Astor LF Hickey Center

Magee Hickey and Jane Hickey Sexton
Photo © Joel Weisbrod

Magee Hickey, CBS 2 News Reporter, Hosted a Cabaret to Benefit Astor’s
Lawrence F. Hickey Center

May 2011

On Saturday, May 14th, Magee Hickey, daughter of Lawrence F. Hickey and Reporter for CBS 2 News, along with her newscaster colleagues from New York’s television stations, two of her siblings, and other special guests, sang in a Cabaret to an audience of over 200 to raise funds for Astor’s Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development in the Bronx.

On this wonderful afternoon, guests had the opprotunity to meet Ms. Hickey and the reporters at a lovely reception  following the performance.

» Get complete details and view a slideshow HERE

Assemblyman Molinaro Honored at Fundraising Reception

May 2011

Astor held its fundraising reception: “Swing Into Spring,” on Thursday, May 5th at the Millbrook Winery in Millbrook, NY, where Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro was honored with the Louise Marillac Public Service Award, an award named for a woman who spent much of her life serving the public.

I would like to congratulate Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro for all the work he does on behalf of children and families in the community. While in the county legislature, he was one of the important advocates in our early efforts to improve the systems of care for infants, toddlers and their families and has continued this support during his time in the assembly,” said Dr. James McGuirk, Astor Executive Director/CEO.

Molinaro & Board
Photo © Joel Weisbrod

» Read full details and see a slideshow HERE

Dutchess Head Start and Early Head Start Accepting Applications

May 10, 2011

Head Start logoAstor’s Early Head Start and Head Start programs in Dutchess County are now accepting applications.

Head Start is a federally-funded program for children from low-income families. It is a preschool developmental program of early childhood education and ancillary services including health (i.e., physical, dental and mental), nutrition, and social services, including extensive parental involvement and participation.

For more information please contact the Center near you:

Center Locations and Directors:

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

May 2011

SAMHSA's National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day poster

May is National Mental Health Month

May 3rd is SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

SAMHSA’s “Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health” public awareness effort was created in 1994 with the mission of increasing awareness of children’s mental health issues.

Astor continues to bring awareness to children’s mental health issues. This month we are focusing on the urgent issue of Teen Suicide Prevention.

Learn how you can help…

We urge you to read about the role of underlying mental health issues and children’s engagement in suicidal behaviors, and what you can do to recognize and help children at risk.

Read the article that Astor’s Dr. Suzanne Button, Dr. Alice Linder and Dr. Paul Bulman wrote for the Poughkeepsie Journal for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, on spreading teen suicide prevention awareness.

This page on our website has a great video and important information

View/print/download our Suicide Prevention Whitepaper

Visit the SAMHSA website
(Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)

Astor Website Adds a “Volunteer News” Page

May 2011

Astor’s programs are under serious financial pressures due to cut backs in government funding, and donations of time and talent are more important than ever.

Thankfully, Astor has a large and varied group of generous and caring volunteers who help us in countless ways!

We’ve created a new “Volunteer News” page to highlight some of their efforts, and to allow us to express our thanks to them.

Please visit our “Volunteer News” page to learn more, and check back frequently to keep up with their great work.

Two examples from Spring 2011 which you’ll find on our new web page are:

Remembering Former Board Member Larry F. Hickey

April 1, 2011

Larry F. HickeyIt is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Larry F. Hickey on Monday, March 28th. Mr. Hickey was on the Board of Directors from 1981 until 2004, and a benefactor of Astor. Mr. Hickey was instrumental in assisting Astor in acquiring the Little Red School House from the City of New York for our Early Childhood Program in the Bronx. The program was named the Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development in his honor. Mr Hickey was a generous humanitarian, giving of his time and many talents. He was committed to ensuring the world become a better place for children and their families. He received many honors throughout his life for efforts on behalf of the poor and disabled including the Serena Branson Award from Astor Services for Children & Families.

Married for almost 56 years, Mr. Hickey’s wife, Jean passed away in August 2007. They resided in Manhattan where he and Jean raised their four children, Elizabeth, Frank, Magee and Jane; and were the proud grandparents of 11 grandchildren.

The staff and children at the Lawrence F. Hickey Center celebrated Mr. Hickey’s life on Monday, April 11th.  His birthday, March 31st, was declared Mr. Hickey Day and his legacy will forever live on through the children and families we serve!

Yvette Bairan Receives Certification in Healthcare Compliance (CHC)

November 4, 2010

Astor’s Own Yvette Bairan Achieves National Certification

Yvette Bairan, Corporate Compliance Analyst, received her Certification in Healthcare Compliance (CHC). A Certified Healthcare Compliance is a national certification developed by the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) through its Compliance Certification Board. The CHC is a professional with knowledge of relevant regulations and expertise in compliance processes sufficient to assist the healthcare industry to understand and address legal obligations, and promote organizational integrity through the operation of effective compliance programs.

Yvette Bairan

The Health Care Compliance Association established the Compliance Certification Board (CCB) in 1999 to complete the process of developing an examination and assumed responsibility for managing the certification program. The exam is extremely complex because it requires a very broad understanding of the healthcare industry and its focus is not on factual knowledge but on how that knowledge would be effectively applied. In the nation, there are approximately 2,300 CHCs. Congratulations Yvette!!

Dr. Jamila Codrington Receives ABPsi Bobby E. Wright Award

October 8, 2010

Congratulations to Astor’s Own Dr. Jamila Codrington, the 2010-2011 recipient of the Bobby E. Wright Award

Dr. Codrington has been named the winner of this year’s Bobby E. Wright Award, given annually by the The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi). Dr. Codrington is the Immediate Past President of the ABPsi’s New York Chapter. The Wright Award is given to an individual who demonstrates “commitment to community service and uplift as exemplified in the life’s work of the late Bobby E. Wright”.

Dr. Jamila Codrington

Dr. Codrington received the award in recognition of “her indefatigable energy and clear vision … conven[ing] culturally aligned disaster response training [for] service providers who organized trips to Haiti after the earth quake”. The ABPsi continues: “Dr. Codrington assisted in the inter-generational transmission of leadership through her co-coordination of multiple events”, and praises her as a “visionary” in her “work as a psychologist, organizer, and activist”.

Dr. Codrington is a staff psychologist at the Astor Child Guidance Center, Tilden Street, Bronx, NY.

Statement from the ABPsi:

“Dr. Jamila Codrington is the president of the NY ABPsi chapter. Dr. Codrington has organized several events as well as presented at these events – a challenging task. However, given her indefatigable energy and clear vision, she was able to convene culturally aligned disaster response training in New York at John Jay College for Black Mental Health month this year. This event convened several service providers who organized trips to Haiti after the earth quake using independent funds, provided disaster response basic skills, and offered training on how to incorporate African cultural rituals into disaster response. Incorporated into this same event was a Student Circle Eastern Region meeting. Thus, Dr. Codrington assisted in the intergenerational transmission of leadership through her co-coordination of the multiple events.

Dr. Codrington also participated in the ABPsi mid-year meeting – the African Centered Reentry Initiative Convening in January. There she presented on how to incorporate African dance into the reentry process providing specific suggestions on which dances could be used to facilitate trauma treatment. More importantly, she used the opportunity to learn about the best reentry practices towards preparing the NY ABPsi chapter to implement a reentry initiative – a process the chapter began before the announcement of the ACRE project.

Dr. Codrington has also worked with several community based organizations that have similar goals of serving members of the Black community. For instance she has worked towards educating community members who have sickle cell about issues concerning mental health and health disparities. In addition, she has worked with community organizations on protecting the school-aged children’s education through supporting a curriculum inclusive of African reality as well as stemming the tide of centralizing the education system through the mayor’s office, which would undermine community control.

Overall, Dr. Codrington’s work as a psychologist, organizer, and activist is in line with the work of Dr. Wright. She is a visionary who like Dr. Wright comes from a family of race people. Given the challenges of organizing within a city like New York, Dr. Codrington has coalesced the organization to become relevant and recognized within various communities of African ancestry.”

Astor Opens New Mental Health Clinic in the Bronx

October 1, 2010

Astor’s New Children’s Mental Health Center “Astor at Highbridge”

Astor Services For Children & Families celebrated the opening of its new Astor Children’s Mental Health Center, “Astor at Highbridge”, with a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremnoy at 1419 Shakespeare Avenue, Bronx, NY.

Bronx Ribbon Cutting
Photo ©Gerald Peart

Our full coverage begins HERE

Astor Dutchess Clinics now offering Walk-In First Appointment

September 21, 2010

On July 12, 2010, Astor’s Dutchess County Outpatient Clinics (Counseling Centers) implemented the “Open Access” model of clinical care which gives clients immediate, same day access to their first session without the need to make an appointment. First time clients who would like to be seen at these Centers can walk-in between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm, Monday – Friday.

Astor’s Counseling Services provide outpatient counseling, psychiatric and case management services to children and adolescents (ages 2-21) and their families.

“In our Dutchess Clinics, when patients scheduled their first appointment with the counseling centers  it was taking between two weeks to two months to be scheduled.  Open Access has virtually eliminated the waiting and allows us to respond more rapidly to our clients while allowing our clinicians to spend more face-to-face time counseling,” said Konstantinos (Gus) Tsoubris, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director, Astor Hudson Valley Community-Based Behavioral Health & Prevention Programs.

Read more details in this Press Release

Astor Celebrates Annual Children’s Awards Day

June 25, 2010

Astor Services for Children & Families Residential Treatment Programs in Rhinebeck and its award winning special education school, The Astor Learning Center, held its Annual Children’s Awards Ceremony on Thursday, June 24, 2010.

The Awards Ceremony celebrated the achievements of all the children in
the Residential Programs by honoring each child with an award. Awards were presented for achievement in academics, music, art and athletics, as well as improvement in social skills.

The highest award, Student of the Year, was given to Eric Wist, who showed exemplary achievement in academic and behavioral gains. In addition, Eric and Astor staff member Mary Jo Pica were both presented with the Joel Robert Crenshaw Award for best exemplifying the “Spirit of Astor”: caring, resiliency, compassion and commitment to others.

The Awards Ceremony was attended by several hundred people including family members, former students, Astor’s staff and Board members. After the conclusion of the Ceremony the children, along with their families and friends, enjoyed a barbeque lunch and celebrated the successful end of the academic year!

Astor Receives $25k Grant from the Countess Moira Foundation

June 2010

Astor Services for Children & Families received a $25,000 grant from the Countess Moira Foundation to support expansion of its Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Training and a Family Fun Day for Astor’s programs in the Bronx.

“Parent Child Interaction Therapy is a proven parent-child treatment program that assists parents by giving them the tools to work with their children with behavioral problems (aggression, non-compliance, defiance and temper tantrums),” says Joan DiBlasi, Ph.D., Assistant Executive Director, Astor Bronx Community-Based Behavioral Health & Prevention Programs.

“Because parents are videotaped, they can actually see themselves when they are using skills successfully and when they are not. They are delighted when they see themselves mastering good parental skills. It is a popular treatment modality that provides them with immediate feedback and tools to work with their children behavioral problems. This generous grant from the Countess Moira Foundation will allow us to expand PCIT – allowing us to go directly to where the families live, to enable those parents who for a variety of reasons cannot come to our sites.”

Astor’s Bronx Programs have been using PCIT Training for several years in their Outpatient Clinics, predominantly at the Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development, a therapeutic Early Childhood Development Program as well as for their children in their school-aged Day Treatment Center at Byron Ave.

This grant will also support the children and families in Astor’s Lawrence F. Hickey and the Tilden Street Centers to participate in a Family Fun Day. According to Dr. DiBlasi, many of the children and families served by Astor face significant daily challenges that are the result of unemployment, poverty and stress. When they have the opportunity to just be children who can participate with their families and siblings in a fun filled afternoon, cherished memories are created and lives can transformed – these Family Fun Days provide Astor’s children and families that opportunity.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to focus on families in such a positive and fun-filled environment, and we are thankful to The Countess Moira Foundation for allowing us to provide our children and their families with such a memorable experience!” says DiBlasi.

Astor Receives $25k Grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

April 2010

Astor Services for Children & Families has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan that will support improvements to the delivery of services to children, ages zero to five, and their families in Dutchess County.

“Our implementation of Lean Six Sigma throughout the agency has resulted in increased efficiencies and improved communication. We have been able to successfully use a manufacturing process improvement model to help people,” says James McGuirk, Ph.D., Executive Director/CEO, Astor Services for Children & Families. “…the grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will allow Astor to bring this proven methodology to the community to directly impact the children and families.”

More information is available HERE

Astor Offers A New Series Of Workshops For Youths

April 30, 2010

Training and career guidance workshops are being offered at Astor’s Middletown location in Orange County.

Astor has initiated a series of System of Care Weekly Workshops, designed to find young adults’ strengths and help guide them toward appropriate careers. Workshops will offer Career Orientation as well as Independent Living Skills topics.

a young photographer

This program is being spear-headed by Astor’s Anne Marie Beekman, who obtained a grant to help get it off the ground.

Learn more about the workshops HERE.

NY Archbishop Dolan Visits Astor

December 31, 2009

Archbishop Timothy Dolan visited Astor’s Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development in the Bronx.

Archbishop Dolan Visits with Astor Children

During the visit, Archbishop Dolan visited all five classrooms where he met and played with the children.

“Thank you for the love and care you show to God’s little children,”

said archbisop Dolan.

Read the full story and view a video and slideshow HERE.

Holiday Events Ring In The Season At Astor

December 2009

The Annual St. Nick’s Craft Fair and Sugar Plum Preview events featured good cheer and beautiful crafts, all benefiting the children at Astor.

raffle prize from Astor's Sugar Plum Preview event

Even in hard times, Astor’s holiday fundraising  events were a success thanks to our many friends.

View a slideshow of the St. Nick’s Craft Fair 2009.

View a slideshow of the Sugar Plum Preview event.

Astor Opens a New School in Poughkeepsie

November 2009

Astor’s Dutchess County School Age Day Treatment Program opens at Mt. Carmel School.

Over 100 people were in attendance for the open house, ribbon cutting, and tour of Astor’s new facility in the former Mt. Carmel School.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey addresses the audience at Astor school opening

Congressman Maurice Hinchey addressing the audience

This program gives children the chance to thrive in a traditional school environment with the intensive support they need to overcome behavioral challenges. When children and adolescents graduate, they can re-enter public school and transition to their appropriate school placement.

View slideshow and read the complete story…

Annual Assessment Finds Across-The-Board Improvements

October 2009

Astor’s latest agency-wide client assessment has found significant improvements in all areas.

In our ongoing effort to improve services, all clinical programs in the Agency continue to assess clients at admission, annually and at discharge. The measurements provide a structured assessment of children and caregivers on dimensions considered key in treatment planning. Individual scores are used to influence client-specific treatment planning, while aggregate data are used for program evaluation.

We are proud to say that in the past year, our data show that clients agency-wide exhibited significant improvements in all areas of assessment.

To learn more, CLICK HERE

Astor Celebrates New Name with Ribbon Cutting

October 1, 2009

Astor Services for Children & Families held a ribbon cutting celebration in honor of our new name and logo on Thursday, September 17 at 12:00 p.m. at our Rhinebeck, NY location. The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Rhinebeck Area Chamber of Commerce joined the celebration, and a great time was had by all!

Astor Board Chair Larry Weisberg addresses the crowd as Dr. Jim McGuirk Looks On

Astor Board Chair Larry Weisberg addresses the crowd as Dr. James McGuirk, Executive Director/CEO of Astor Services for Children & Families looks on!

Astor Honored With First Ever AMHF Stefan de Schill Award

September 2009

Astor Services for Children & Families is the first recipient of the Stefan de Schill Award, presented by the American Mental Health Foundation (AMHF).

The award is given to exceptional organizations and individuals working in the spirit of AMHF, and honors the life-work of Dr. Stefan de Schill, AMHF Director from 1948 to his death in 2005.

“We are delighted to present the first American Mental Health Foundation, Stefan de Schill Award, to Astor in recognition of their work on behalf of the welfare of young people suffering with emotional problems and their loving families. For more than 55 years, Astor has worked in the spirit of the American Mental Health Foundation,” says Evander Lomke, President and Executive Director, American Mental Health Foundation.

Click to read the complete story…

Joint Commission Spotlights Astor Again

August 2009

The Joint Commission has once again featured Astor in its publication “Benchmark”, this time as a case study in performance improvement.

In its September/October issue of “Benchmark“, The Joint commission singled out Astor for its success at utilizing state-of-the-art methods for improving efficiency and performance. They write:

“Using Lean/Six Sigma, Astor improved the efficiency of its hiring process and enhanced communication regarding hiring throughout the organization. Staff became more familiar with Lean/Six Sigma methodology and the benefits of using such an approach.”

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

This is not the first time that the Joint Commission — the nation’s predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in health care — has put Astor in the spotlight.

In its May 2008 issue of “Benchmark” the Joint Commission cited Astor as a leader in the use of Evidence-based Practice and Outcomes Management.

If you missed it, you can read that article HERE

Astor Is All Over The Map

August 2009

The Astor website now includes new Google maps to help our clients find our many locations.

Our detailed maps pinpoint all of our locations, both in the Hudson Valley and in the Bronx. These maps will make finding our locations and their contact information much easier for our clients and other visitors.

They also make dramatically clear just how very far Astor’s services extend! We list eleven different locations in the Bronx alone, and over 25 locations in the Hudson Valley!

Astor Bronx Google map   Astor Hudson Valley Google map

Please take a look at the maps HERE!

Hudson Valley Renegades Pitch In for Astor

August 2009

Astor Services for Children & Families teamed up for the first time with the Hudson Valley Renegades on Monday July 30th to benefit Astor’s Hudson Valley Community-Based Behavioral Health and Prevention Services.

Hudson Valley Renegades Pitch In For Astor

In an event called “Dollar Days,” the Renegades offered $1 general admission to Monday’s 7:05p game against the Staten Island Yankees. Attendees were asked to donate new sports equipment for children in Astor’s Hudson Valley programs.


Hickey Center Chosen as Recipient of Deloitte Impact Day Efforts

July 2009

The Lawrence F. Hickey Center for Child Development in the Bronx was selected by global financial services company Deloitte as a recipient to partake in their annual IMPACT DAY that took place on Friday, June 5, 2009.

IMPACT DAY is Deloitte’s company-wide volunteer day. Each year they reach out to numerous non-profit agencies throughout New York City and Westchester hoping to make a positive impact on the local community. The Hickey Center was one of this year’s recipients. Deloitte volunteers worked on a landscaping project to beautify the center’s tricycle path.

Slideshow and complete story

Astor Head Start Programs Receive 100% Marks

July 2009

In the latest federal review of Astor’s Head Start programs, our programs were found to be in 100% compliance!

Our Head Start Annual Report for 2007/2008 details these and other accomplishments. It also provides interesting information about how parents and teachers view our programs.

Read our 2007-2008 Head Start Annual Report.

Stenberg Cup Golf Tournament Benefits Astor

July 2009

Astor held its 11th Annual Stenberg Cup Golf Tournament on Wednesday, June 23. The event was a great success, and the weather made for a beautiful day on the course!

The fun-filled day included 18 holes of golf, barbeque lunch, cocktails with hors d’oeurves, and a live auction. Guests enjoyed the contests, beautiful course, and great food.

View a slideshow of event photos and read more HERE.

Astor Celebrates Name Change at 8th Annual Benefit Dinner

May 2009

The Astor Home For Children has changed its name to Astor Services For Children & Families. We made this exciting announcement and unveiled our new name and logo, the product of a year long re-branding process, at our 8th Annual Dinner, which took place on May 1, 2009 at Locust Grove, Samuel Morse Estate in Poughkeepsie, NY. Thank you to all of our friends and supporters who joined us on this memorable occasion.

Astor Logo

Our new name is a better representation of the programs and services we provide to a changing and diverse client base.

Read more about our name change and annual dinner .

Astor and DCRCOC Host Successful Breakfast

March 11, 2009

The Astor Home for Children and Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted its Sixth Annual Public Policy Breakfast on March 3, 2009 at the Poughkeepsie Grand.  Over 100 business and community leaders from around the Hudson Valley attended.  The keynote speaker was Dr. Sandra Bloom, Board-Certified psychiatrist. She addressed the topic, “Does Childhood Matter to Adults?”

Click here for more on Dr. Bloom!

Astor Kicks Off 2009 Sponsorship Campaign

The Astor Home for Children is running their 2009 Sponsorship Campaign.  The monies raised will help replace the heating system which is over 70 years old at our Rhinebeck, NY location.  The heating system which serves 75 children and staff in the Residential programs, will be replaced with one that is more energy efficient and reliable.  In addition, Astor will realize a tremendous savings for years to come!  Your donation can help make this possible!

Sponsorship Commitment Form

For more information, contact Stephanie Habich at 845-871-1171.

Shout Out to Astor’s New Chairman and Board Members

Congratulations to our new chairman, Larry Weisberg!

Upon his appointment, Weisberg said:

“It’s an honor to work with my fellow board members to support the dedicated staff at Astor.  The wonderful work that Astor does with children and families helps make our communities stronger.”

For more on Larry Weisberg, click here!

Astor would also like to welcome new board members:
Vincent Cozzolino
Kevin Hamilton
James Raimo
Virginia Sibbison

It Was Indeed a Happy Holiday for Astor Children and Families

January 2009

More than 1,000 children and families were “adopted” out in The Astor Home for Children’s “Adopt a Family” program.  There was an outpouring of interest from many, in a time of economic uncertainty.  Individuals, organizations, schools and businesses helped to make the season brighter for those less fortunate and for that, we thank you!

For more on this, click here!