Family Support Services (FSS)

The Family Support Services Program is focused on the needs of families who have a child or children with a social, emotional, behavioral, developmental or a mental health disability. FSS provides services to support and empower families so they can improve the quality of their lives and help their children to achieve their full potential within the family network and community. FSS provides a wide range of no cost services to help support the entire family.

Family Peer Support Services
A Family Peer Advocate works across a variety of systems to provide peer support, education, advocacy and information and referral. A Family Peer Advocate will work closely with parents/guardians in a strength-based relationship to enhance family skills to promote positive youth functioning and their child’s ability to be successful. A Family Peer Advocate will be available to collaboratively work with and on behalf of families to assist them to obtain needed services and supports to promote positive outcomes. The most important advocacy concept of FSS is that of being “Effective Parent-Professional-System partnerships”.

FSS provides wavier contracts services through the Office of Mental Health providing skill-building and respite services.

Parents of Unique Children (POUCH)
POUCH is a parent–driven support group consisting of parents/guardians and a FSS peer advocate who share similar experiences. POUCH provides a forum where parents can exchange information, share past experiences and create positive techniques and skills to enhance their family unity. FSS schedules a variety of educational workshops which have included such topics as: Mental health assessments, transition services, special education laws, nutrition and a medication presentation by an area pharmacist.

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Parent Empowerment Training (PEP)
The Family Peer Advocate provides training for parents/guardians of children with mental health needs so they can gain specific information about mental health disorders and their treatments, the mental health care system and services and school system options.

For more information on Family Support Services, please email Pat Vincent at


Youth Services

The Youth Services Program offers flexible, creative programming to meet the needs of young people with emotional, developmental, or behavioral challenges.  By providing opportunities for support, socialization, and recreation, the program works to keeps youth living happy, healthy lives in their homes and communities.  Programs include:

Saturday Respite Recreation Program
12:00-4:00PM @ YMCA of Ithaca & Tompkins County
(Saturdays throughout the school year)
Youth facing mental health/developmental challenges, as well as their siblings (regardless of diagnosis) are eligible to attend our program at the Y.  MHATC staff and interns supervise youth, maintaining at minimum a 1:5 staff-to-youth ratio, and participants have access to a variety of activities, including swimming, racquetball, basketball, billiards, and indoor as well as outdoor play structures.  The program is free of cost.

Teen Group
5:00pm-6:30pm on Thursdays at the Mental Health Association
A free, weekly drop-in group for teens, Teen Group provides an opportunity for adolescents to meet peers, have fun and socialize in a safe and healthy manner, and share their experiences, struggles and successes with one another.  A small meal is provided.

Kids First Summer Day Camp
7/3/17-8/11/17, Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm
Kids First is a 6-week day-camp program offered each summer, providing youth with games, crafts, field trips, educational guest speakers, and daily trips to Cass Park Pool for swimming.  Kids First is unique due to the high level of training for staff and a higher ratio of counselors to youth than a typical camp, allowing greater flexibility and support for participants.  Cost is determined by the family’s financial need and funding available.

CLICK HERE for the Kids First 2017 Camp Application

Young Adults Group
Young Adults Group is a new group at the Jenkins Center geared towards young people ages 18-29, exploring the challenges and joys of entering adulthood, and how young adults can find voice to empower themselves, their peers, and make an impact on the systems level.  This group meets Friday afternoons from 3:30pm-4:30pm.

Additional Programs of Interest:
Trainings that benefit youth and families are also offered in conjunction with our Community Education program, which offers training in Youth Mental Health First Aid and the Wellness Recovery Action Plan.  See our Community Education page for more information.

To learn more about Youth Services at MHATC, contact Melanie Little at