Family Support Services
 NY (New York)

FSWs are parents who are raising or have raised a child with mental health concerns and are personally familiar with the associated challenges. FSWs offer the integrity of their experience to the families they serve and are often able to connect with waiver families based on a unique understanding of their circumstances.FSWs have first hand knowledge of the services and supports available in the community. FSWs offer waiver families activities designed to enhance the family unit, ultimately developing safe, stable, and supportive families who are connected to their communities.

FSWs offer resources, including, but not limited to: education, advocacy and support. FSWs offer information to families on community resources, assist families in connecting to community resources and natural supports, and advocate with the family to access supports, services and activities. FSWs introduce and connect families to community activities which foster family cohesion. These activities, which may be cultural, educational or recreational, are individualized for each family based on their culture, needs, values and preferences and are consistent with the familys income to assure the possibility of continuing the activities post-Waiver.FSWs are also expected to facilitate family/parent support groups. Family support group activities for parents (i.e.., monthly meetings, game nights, annual picnics) are provided as a venue for engaging parents with similar experience as a way of assisting in building natural support systems in their communities.

The role of the Family Support Worker is to:

  • Strengthen and support the care-giving efforts of families with special emphasis on needs such as: emotional, physical health, parenting, and family interaction.
  • Empower families to make informed choices regarding the nature of supports for themselves and their child by providing an understanding of what resources, services and supports are available and how to access them in their communities.
  • Develop a family's capacity to actively participate in all decisions about services and supports for themselves and their child.
  • Develop a family's capacity to enhance and improve the overall health and well-being of their child and family.
  • Work with the family and their provider team to promote effective collaboration and communication.
  • Strengthen and develop a family's skill and feeling of self-efficacy so they can effectively advocate for their child, work collaboratively with service providers and do so with increasing independence over time.
  • Family Support Services workers must:
    • have some high school education (a high school diploma or G.E.D. is preferred);
    • be at least 18 years of age;
    • have experience working with children (preference given to those with experience working with children with special needs);
    • be a parent or caregiver of a child with a history of emotional or behavioral problems (parent or caregiver is defined as a parent, foster parent or other family member with direct responsibility for the care of a child with a diagnosis of emotional disturbance). OMH Parent/Family Advisors at the OMH Regional Offices assist in recruitment of qualified family support workers);
    • be cleared by the State Child Abuse Registry; and
    • obtain the Family Peer Advocate Credential within two years of employment (for new hires on/after November 1st, 2013); and
    • complete fingerprinting for a criminal history background clearance (if hired after April 1, 2005).
    Family Support Services workers must:
    • complete training in the Individualized Care Model (2 to 4 hour course);
    • complete Parent Empowerment Program (PEP) training the earliest of the next offered training in the agency's region (for new hires on/after November 1st, 2013);
    • complete safety in the home and community training as supplied by the ICC agency and
    • be supervised by a *qualified Mental Health staff person. This is defined as a licensed physician, a licensed psychologist, an MSW or CSW, R.N. other professional disciplines which receive the written approval of the Office of Mental Health, or any individual having education, experience and demonstrated competence (this is defined as Masters or Bachelors degree in a human services related field, or Associates degree in a human services related field and three years experience in human services, or a high school diploma and 5 years experience in human services);
    • complete Mandated Reporting self-direct online training*(effective May 2015);
    • complete OMH online Foundations training when other service specific required trainings are either not offered or scheduled within the first 30 days of employment (effective May 2015).