YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
YOUTH POWER!'s May Day Event
Celebrate Foster Care and Mental Health Awareness in May
Kickin' It Tour
Save the Dates: Youth Forums in a Region Near You
Micah Fialka-Feldman appointed to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Tiara Springer Honored as Outstanding Youth Advocate
Welcome VOYA's Newly Elected Officers
Youth Policy Brief: The 411 of the ABLE Act
Get Involved! Join the Outreach Working Group
Multiple Diploma Pathways Campaign
2nd Annual Cripping the Con in Syracuse
Youth Involvement in Rural Communities
A Day in the Life of the Systems Advocate
Finger Lakes Parent Network Youth Program Announces 8th Annual Teen Conference
Youth Belong Here University
Apply to be appointed to NYSILC
Youth Voice Opportunity: Join the State Education Department's Youth Advisory Panel
Speak Up! Speak Out! DDPC holds focus groups about bullying
Person Centered Planning for Youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Foster Care
News You Can Use: Youth and Families with Access to Peer Advocates Experience Greater Satisfaction with Mental Health Services
Learning Opportunity: Gateway to College Information Sessions
Learning Opportunity: Disability Studies Programs at CUNY
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  • Sexual Health Relationships and LGBTQ2s
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RSVP Today: We Conquer The Day: 
Celebrating Resiliency and Recovery

We Conquer The Day- Celebrating Resiliency and Recovery

YOUTH POWER!, Families Together in New York State, and New York State Success are hosting this luncheon in celebration of May being declared both Foster Care and Mental Health awareness month. 


We invite all members of the community to attend this youth and family driven event. We will spread hope, inspire families, build community and celebrate the resiliency of young people and families engaged in foster care and mental health services.


Register Now:

Registration Deadline: May 21, 2014


If you have any questions regarding the details of this event please contact

Carrie Holmes, Hudson River Regional Youth Partner, YOUTH POWER!,  518-432-03330 ext 34 

Celebrate Foster Care and Mental Health Awareness in May
By Terri Lewis

What's Great in Our State Event Cake This month celebrates Mental Health Awareness month and two events have been most recognized during the first week of May. Families Together, along with staff from YOUTH POWER! and many other organizations took part in the What's Great in Our State event may 7th; an event that  honored  individuals and programs that are successfully addressed the issues of children's mental health, including work on early identification, outreach, family education, providing mental health awareness in schools and successful intervention on behalf of afflicted children and their families. The event was educational, inspirational and overall a wonderful experience to boost awareness.


SAMHSA also celebrated Children's Mental Health by hosting a webcast that took place May 6, the webcast : 2014 National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: Inspiring Resilience, Creating Hope. It was launched near Washington, DC, and included a special general session of the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) annual conference. The webcast addressed the audience of more than one-hundred attendees comprised of mental health advocates, educators, school administrators, state agency leaders and parents of children living with a mental health challenge.


These are only two of the many events going on around Children's Mental Health, there are more coming up including the May Day Event taking place Wednesday, May 28th, the theme centered around, "We Conquer The Day; Celebrating Resiliency and Recovery", the event being a luncheon event to celebrate the resiliency of youth in foster care and mental health treatment!

Kickin' It Tour: Coming to a Region Near You 
Tell Us What Helps and What Harms Your Recovery 

 YP! Kickin' It Tour 2014

The New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and YOUTH POWER! have teamed up to host the Kickin' It Tour for young people ages 15-25 with experience in recovery programs.


Join us for entertainment, food and an opportunity to speak your mind.


Every day in Albany, state employees make decisions about the prevention and addiction services you receive.  We believe your input is needed so that these decisions are not off the mark.  Help us build opportunities for young people to be heard.  Help us improve community supports for young people.


Speak-Up! Speak-Out! 

Tell Us What Helps and What Harms Your Recovery. 


June 4, 2014:   Northern NY (Malone) Download The Flyer


These events are free but you must register. 

Complete the registration form and send it to


Funding for the Youth Forums was made possible by OASAS through a SAMHSA/CSAT Grant #1U79T1024268-01.  The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speaker and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
Save the Dates!
Youth Forums in a Region Near You 

in a region near YOUth

Mark your calendars! YOUTH POWER! wants to hear from you. Youth forums are occurring throughout the summer and we will be in your area sometime soon. Save these dates and stay tuned for additional information. More dates will be announced soon. 


Check here for up to date information.  





Central LogoJune 21: Central Regional Youth Forum: Binghamton. Contact Colleen Deitrich for more information. or 315-679-1476






nycJuly 18: New York City Youth Forum

Contact Pauline Gordon for more information. or  347-880-2735






WSTRN in block lettering and Western written under itJuly 19: Western Regional Youth Forum

Contact: Zach Garafalo for more information or 518-432-0333 ext. 26






Mark your calendars! Registration materials coming soon: July 28 - 31: University of YOUTH POWER! at the College of Saint Rose in Albany.

Micah Fialka-Feldman Appointed to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

(L to R) Micah Fialka-Feldman, Colleen Deitrich, and Stephanie Orlando A member of YOUTH POWER! is again proving to the world that young people can be heard and make a huge difference! Micah Fialka-Feldman, a member from the central region of YP!, was appointed to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities on Monday, according to the official White House Website. Micah, 28, is an active member of the central regional team when he is in New York State, working at Syracuse University as a Teaching Assistant during the school year. Micah is originally from Michigan, where he first made an outstanding impact in the Disability Rights Community at Oakland University in 2009.


Micah successfully sued Oakland University in 2009 when he was told by the campus he could not live in the dorms because he was in a special program. He graduated from Oakland in 2010, and his victory for the Disability Rights and Accessibility Rights Movements became nationally recognized. In the summer of 2013, he interned at the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


On the new appointees, President Obama said, "The extraordinary dedication these men and women bring to their new roles will greatly serve the American people.  I am grateful they have agreed to serve in this Administration and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come."


Micah also keeps a blog where he discusses his life experiences; it can be found at


YOUTH POWER! wishes Micah the best of luck, and knows for a fact that he will continue to do incredible things for Disability and Accessibility Rights.

 Tiara Springer Honored as
Outstanding Youth Advocate

Tiara Springer Every year, Families Together in NYS honors a special young person with the Outstanding Youth Advocate Award. The young person is recognized for empowering families, youth and communities in relation to children and youth with cross-systems needs, social, emotional and/or behavioral challenges. This year, Tiara Springer was a recipient of the award. "When I found out that I received the award, I was excited! Moments like this motivate me to continue my work as an advocate. This year's conference was extremely phenomenal! On my way back to the city to implement many of the things that I have learned"


As a survivor of trauma and lived experience in both the mental health and foster care system, Tiara has used her experience as a driving force to help other young people struggling with similar challenges.


Tiara has been a youth advocate for the Family Resource Center for several years now. Recently, she was hired by Families On The Move Inc. as a youth advocate for the Brooklyn Psychiatric Center. As a youth advocate, Tiara has provided an array of services to youth and families in her community. Tiara has facilitated co-ed peer support groups, provided individual and group counseling for cross-system involved youth, and peer advocacy.


Tiara is also an active member of YOUTH POWER!. Tiara has attended Families Together In NYS conferences and has participated in the YP! Youth Leadership Forum. At the Youth Leadership Forum, Tiara raised awareness about issues concerning youth involved in cross-systems. She also frequently attends the Citywide Oversight Committee Youth Advisory Council. The Citywide Oversight Committee Youth Advisory Council is facilitated by YOUTH POWER!


Aside from her job as a youth advocate, Tiara extends herself to help change the lives of others by facilitating various charity events. Last year, Tiara raised over $400 towards supporting the research of Kidney Cancer. Recently, she launched a campaign to donate used jeans for teens in homeless shelters. The campaign was called Jeans for Teens.


Tiara is a great example of a young peer leader and advocate. She aspires to pursue a Master's degree in social work so that she can continue to create social change in her community. "As a youth advocate, I realized I am actually changing lives and I am stepping toward what God has called me to do."

Welcome VOYA's Newly Elected Officers
By Carrie Holmes

VOYA's newly elected officers Rensselear County's Youth Advisory Council, VOYA (Voices of Youth Advisors) is proud to introduce their newly elected officers; from left to right, Susan Steffek, President; Ethan Seeley, Vice President; Carrie Holmes Hudson Regional Youth Partner, Ryan Cromwell, Outreach Coordinator; and Xavier Skeeter, Secretary. These young and committed individuals look forward to serving the youth in their county for the remainder of their term. Youth of Rensselear!, be on the lookout for initiatives from VOYA near you.


For more information on how to get involved with VOYA and help bring the youth perspective to the table, contact Carrie Holmes, the Hudson River Regional Youth Partner of Youth Power! at or 518-432-0333 ext. 34. We look forward to hearing from YOUth!

Youth Policy Brief: The 411 of the ABLE Act

By Melanie Hecker

It is very common for those with disabilities to have money problems. The cost of living for someone with a disability can be very high. Not only that, but people with disabilities on Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, can only save $2000 in their name at a time. Some people even say that this makes people with disabilities too reliant on the government. This is where the ABLE Act comes in. If passed, this act will help to ease the money troubles of those with disabilities by providing tax-free savings accounts. This money can be used for essentials such as education, transportation, and housing. These accounts will be used in addition to public programs like Medicaid or SSI, rather than replacing them. Money from these accounts will not count against you if you are trying to apply for these benefits. With the ABLE act, people with disabilities will allow people with disabilities to save their money just like anyone else.

Get Involved!

Join the Outreach Working Group

we want YOUth Join the Outreach Working Group and work on cool projects such as: 

  • Developing the YP! website
  • Leading hashtag and other campaigns on social media
  • Design the member newsletter
  • Develop the brand of YP!

To join or for more information, please contact Terri Lewis at or by phone, 518-432-0333 ext 27

Multiple Diploma Pathways Campaign Takes Off

By Melanie Hecker

The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma logo In our education system, there are a lot of very diverse student needs. This diversity, amongst both disabled and non-disabled students, calls for multiple options for graduating high school. Unfortunately, there is very little option at all in our current system. Students are required to take the five Regents exams and a Local Diploma is only available to students with disabilities with certain Regents scores. The Diploma Options Coalition, as well as YOUTH POWER!'s own Action Workgroup, are both seeking to bring about new diploma options for all students of New York State. 

The Diploma Options Coalition is statewide and consists of a variety of organizations and individuals dedicated to advocating for a range of exit options to be available. Recently the coalition had a policy briefing at the capitol that demonstrated just how important multiple graduation options really are. In addition, the coalition has met with legislators regarding this matter and regularly has calls to strategize. 

Much of the work the coalition does is also taken up in YP!'s own Action Workgroup. Action is initiating a youth-led campaign for multiple diploma options. To help define what could be some good options, Action is putting together a youth survey. The survey will be ready for distribution in June.

If you would like to help, you can contact Melanie Hecker at or 518-432-0333 ext. 14

2nd Annual "Cripping the Con" in Syracuse
By Colleen Deitrich

Left to right: Interpreter for the Hearing Impaired, Diane Wiener, Bonnie Schultz and Rachel Zubal-Ruggieri

On April 9th and 10th in Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University's Disability Culture Center hosted the 2nd Annual "Cripping the Con." 


The event is a spin-off of the many 'cons' or conventions that bring fans of comics, television, film, and social media together.  What makes the event different is the overarching goal: the bring people with all disabilities together in an accessible space to celebrate diversity and learn about disability culture.


YOUTH POWER!'s Desiree Moore and Colleen Deitrich attended in order to present on social media and advocacy, but ended up learning a lot more from the others in attendance!  From topics like 'Doctor Who and Disability' to 'The Big Bang Theory and the Concept of the Mad Genius,' the two-day event allowed anyone with life experience with a disability to be the experts and to teach others about rights and advocacy in a way that many can relate to.


The two keynote speakers for the conference were Naomi Sussman, known for portraying the disabled character of 'Pepper' in American Horror Story: Asylum (though she herself is not disabled), and Becky Curran, who has worked as a casting director and works to get disabled actors into more roles (she is disabled herself). Each talked in depth about their experiences with the disability rights community, what challenges they each face, and what they would like to see change in society so that people with disabilities can be more integrated and accepted.


The event also included vendors tables, a photo booth, and a zombie walk at the end of the first day to recognize the disability rights movement. Over 100 people attended at least one of the days of the event.


The SU Disability Culture Center is making Cripping the Con a yearly event, and plans to hold a Disability Pride Conference geared more towards a general crowd in October of 2014. 

 Youth Involvement in Rural Communities Toolkit

Colleen Deitrich, Central Regional Youth Partner

NYS Success Connecting Systems of Care with Children and Families Do you live in a rural (or country) area and find it hard to get involved with your community? Do you have trouble finding resources? Or is it hard just reaching out to peers and other youth because of the long distances? Luckily, YOUTH POWER! In cooperation with the NYS Success Team, has written a guide for both young people and adults who live or work in rural towns and wish to increase youth involvement in spite of the special challenge.


The guide is short, accessible, and easy to understand. It offers some helpful tips for anyone looking to get involved in their communities, especially youth who live in the country. For example: looking at your town's economy may help give you a clue as to how to start reaching out to your local peers! If your town has small, local shops and only a few chain stores or restaurants, you might be more effective going around to the local places with flyers and information. If your town is so small it has only one school to fit everyone, use that to your advantage and organize something at your school! If your town's main place of gathering is a church, synagogue, mosque, or other faith-based building, use them as a resource to help you spread the word that you want to start a group!


According to the 2010 New York census, 78% of counties in the state are considered rural (with a population of under 50,000 people). Rural youth deserve to be heard and have access to resources just as much as city-based young people. Don't be discouraged because you live in a county where it takes ten miles to find a grocery store! Rural towns can be some of the most closely-knit communities you can find!


Click here to read the Youth Involvement in Rural Communities Toolkit. 

A Day in the Life of the Systems Advocate

By Melanie Hecker

Melanie Hecker, Systems Advocate

As the Systems Advocate, there are a variety of tasks I complete in the course of the day. From sitting on committees, to writing, to setting up the Action Workgroup, there is never a dull moment. Here is an example of a day in the life of the Systems Advocate.


I start my workday by taking my para-transit (special transportation for people with disabilities) bus from my community college to the state office building of the Office of Mental Health. It is here that I attend meetings for the Transition Age Youth Workgroup. Ages 16-25 are very tough years for a youth. The transition to adulthood is a very trying and difficult process. Because of this, youth in this particular age range are referred to as "transition age youth". To help support policies regarding the care and treatment of transition age youth, there is the Transition Age Youth Workgroup. This workgroup aims to improve services received by this particular age group, especially in the mental health system.  With all that's going on in the world of transition age youth, it's important to have proper supports in place.  This workgroup is operated out of the Office of Mental Health and YOUTH POWER! is funded by OMH so that youth and young adults can serve on committees and workgroups such as this one.


At these committee meeting, very often subjects will come up that we think our members should know about. When I get back to the main office from the meeting, what often comes next is writing  an article on what was discussed in the workgroup meeting. The subjects of these articles can vary from new grants regarding mental health to new programs being tested out. Before these articles are put in the e-news, I get them approved by Zach Garafalo, Assistant Director, and then send it to Terri Lewis, Network Assistant.


When finished with the days writing assignment, I reach out to the members of the Action Workgroup. Action is YOUTH POWER!'s policy workgroup, doing the direct advocacy work. We create campaigns based around YOUTH POWER!'s priorities, such as our current project of our voice in the education system. This workgroup ensures youth have opportunities to speak up and speak out! I call all of the action members to figure out what times would be good for meetings. Our meetings happen over the internet and phone so that people from all over the state can participate. I pick out a couple of dates to see what would work best. When we have a set day/time I send out a save the date over the Action listserv. For details or to join, contact Melanie Hecker at or by phone at 518-432-0333 ext 31.


At the end of the day I hop on my special transit bus to go home. On the bus I like to reflect on the day's work and think about how to do better tomorrow. I like to think that I can always improve my work. I look forwarding to serving YOUTH POWER! even further In my position.  

Finger Lakes Parent Network Youth Program Announces 8th Annual Teen Conference Date

November 8, 2014, in Avoca, NY

Call for Presenters!


Finger Lakes Parent Network, Inc. Youth Program is looking for workshop presenters for our 8th Annual Teen Conference on November 8, 2014.  Youth and families from Yates, Steuben, Schuyler, Chemung, Tioga, Allegany, Seneca, Wayne and Ontario County will be attending. We hope you consider presenting a workshop for youth, parents and/or staff. Please see the attached list of workshop topics that the youth have requested.  


Please submit all workshop proposals by June 9, 2014.

Cassandra Morse, Teen Services Coordinator

25 West Steuben Street, Bath, NY 14810



Office: 607-776-2164

Cell: 607-654-9074

Fax: 607-776-4327

Youth Belong Here University

OVERNIGHT College Visit for Youth in Care



Applications now being accepted for:


Youth Belong Here University

OVERNIGHT College Visit for Youth in Care

The University at Albany: State University of New York


June 11-12, 2014


This overnight tour has been designed, with the help of other college students in care, to give youth a first-hand experience with higher education. This experience is intended to motivate youth to pursue a post-secondary education and to equip them with information and tools that will assist them to apply to and pay for college.

Youth will have the opportunity to:

  • Tour the campus
  • Talk to college faculty, staff, and students
  • Sleep in a residence hall
  • Learn about financial aid, academic support services, and admissions
  • Experience campus life

Registration is limited- Application Deadline May 23, 2014

Each youth will need an adult to accompany and participate with them


Please fill out the attached application with all required information and send to:


Michael O. Adesida, Education Specialist

Professional Development Program

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue, UAB 423

Albany, NY 12222

ph#518.956.7901 fx#518.956.7876

Apply to be appointed to the New York State Independent Living Council

Logo of the New York State Independent Living Council The New York State Independent Living Council, Inc. (NYSILC) is an independent, non-profit, state council that is required by federal law. Our primary responsibility is to work with state partners to develop, monitor and evaluate New York's three-year Statewide Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). The Council's mission is to promote the independent living philosophy through the network of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and statewide partnerships. We also strongly support research, education, employment, community organization, advocacy, and systems reform around
disability issues.

NYSILC is in the process of seeking candidates to serve as potential volunteer council members appointed by the New York State Regents to three-year terms. The council is looking to fill a number of vacancies and terms that will expire at the end of the year for the following categories:

Organization Serving and Other individuals. 


NYSILC seeks membership with priority given to qualified individuals with various
disabilities, further enhanced by diverse cultures, ages, and gender, geographically distributed across the State.

Interested candidates should complete the attached application form in its entirety. This includes a copy of their resume plus two references with contact information. This information should be sent electronically to ensure equal access during the review process to by the end of business on Monday, June 16, 2014.


The recommendation and appointment process will proceed over the next few months. Appointed members terms will begin new terms January 2015. If you have any questions about the application, process, or duties of council members, contact the NYSILC office at (518) 427-1060, or

 Youth Voice Opportunity:
Join the State Education Department's 
Office of Special Education Youth Advisory Panel

The New York State Education Department logo The Office of Special Education of the New York State Education Department has established a new Youth Advisory Panel.  The purpose of the Panel is to provide youth with an ongoing way to advise the P-12: Office of Special Education on education issues for students with disabilities.  For additional information, click here. 

Speak Up! Speak Out!

Developmental Disabilities Planning Council holding focus groups about bullying

NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council The New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council is interested in finding out more about bullying and individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. We have begun looking into this because we are concerned about how little is known about bullying among individuals with disabilities. 


In order to find out more about this important issue, we are working with a grantee to conduct focus groups with various groups across the state, including: 

  • Individuals (both children and adults) with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities
  • Family members of people with disabilities
  • Friends, classmates and/or coworkers of people with disabilities 
  • People who work with or provide care for people with disabilities outside the immediate family
  • Employers of people with disabilities. 

The information gathered at these meetings will be used to assist us in developing a plan of action to address bullying prevention for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.


We are planning to conduct the focus groups in June and July in the following areas of New York State:

  • New York City/Long Island
  • Capital District 
  • North Country
  • Southern Tier
  • Rochester
  • Buffalo

We are finalizing the dates and locations for the focus groups and will share them with focus groups participants in the next couple of weeks.


We will also be conducting a limited number of interviews with stakeholders from throughout New York State.


If you would like to participate in one of the focus groups or be interviewed, please contact Ashley Pacelli at either 1-800-395-3372 or  Ashley will need the following information for individuals interested in either the focus groups or interviews:

  • Name 
  • Email/Phone #
  • Who you represent (individual, family member, agency, etc.)
  • Interested in focus group or interview
  • Region of state where you would want to participate

Person Centered Planning for Youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Foster Care Advisory Board

We are looking for youth to be a part of our statewide advisory committee as well as participate in focus groups.  These youth representatives should be currently in the foster care system or recently transitioned and also have an intellectual or developmental disability. Locations for the focus groups will be: NYC and the following counties - Erie, Cattaraugus, Columbia, Orange and Westchester.  It will also be important that there are people in the youth's life who could assist with reviewing meeting materials ahead of meetings so they are able to fully participate. 


For more information, please contact:


Bonnie Smith

Project Coordinator - PCP in Foster Care

University of Rochester Medical Center

Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities

Center for Innovative Transition

601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 671

Rochester, NY  14642

Helen Wood Hall 3 (W-135)



Read an overview of the project here  

Read the Advisory Board description here 

News You Can Use

Youth and Families with Access to Peer Advocates Experience Greater Satisfaction with Mental Health Services

OMH logo New Research from the Office of Performance Measurement and Evaluation Youth and Families with Access to Peer Advocates Express Greater Satisfaction with Mental Health Services 

(1. see bottom) 


Marlene Radigan, DrPH, Director, Office of Performance Measurement and Evaluation


Self-reported consumer satisfaction with mental health services is an important outcome measure and quality assurance indicator. In New York State, understanding youth and family perceptions of mental health services provides feedback essential to improving mental health programs to meet the needs of children and families. Over the past two decades, family and youth consumers' roles in shaping the children's mental health service system have expanded. The need to include the voices of families and children in the development of services is supported by evidence showing that providing services with family-centered values is associated with positive functional outcomes for children.


More recently, children's mental health services have included access to family and youth peer-advocates. Peer advocates assist youth and families to seek information and support from their peers in mental health service settings. In New York, the Office of Mental Health (OMH) has focused on credentialing and supporting peer family and youth advocacy. In 2002, OMH created a network of family support programs consisting of approximately 200 family support programs and 400 professional family peer advocates. OMH is in the process of expanding the number of peer advocates, has implemented a training curriculum to establish certification and professionalization of this workforce and is developing quality indicators for family support.


OMH recently studied associations between access to a youth or family advocate and youth or caregiver satisfaction with mental health services. The 2012 study included 768 youth and 1,231 caregivers of youth who participated in a youth or family assessment of care satisfaction survey. The surveys were conducted with youth ages nine and older and/or caregivers of children of all ages who were in care and had been receiving care for emotional or behavioral issues for more than one month in selected programs. Programs included both state and locally-operated inpatient and outpatient mental health service agencies throughout the state. Surveys were distributed by program staff during service delivery or were mailed to consumers' homes. Surveys were completed anonymously and returned to OMH for processing.


The surveys included questions on access to youth or family advocates and degree of satisfaction with mental health services. This study found that the majority of caregivers and approximately one-third of youth who participated in the satisfaction surveys reported having access to a peer advocate. A larger proportion of youth or caregivers with access to peer advocates compared to those without access expressed satisfaction with access to services, appropriateness of services, participation in services and overall satisfaction.


Access to a youth peer advocate was positively associated with youth understanding of psychotropic medication choices. Earlier research indicates that improving shared decision making among youth, parents and practitioners enhances psychotropic medication adherence. Access to peer advocates was also positively associated with perceptions of child functioning and social connectedness for caregivers compared to those without access. This OMH study adds to the growing understanding of the important role peer advocates play in engaging youth with mental health needs and their caregivers in mental health services.


1 Radigan, M., Wang, R.,Chen, Y., & Xiang, J. (2014). Youth and caregiver access to peer advocates and satisfaction with mental health services. Community Mental Health Journal, 50(2). Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10597-014-9709-8.

Learning Opportunity 

Gateway to College Information Sessions 

Gateway to College logo Join us for a Gateway to College Introductory Webinar!


The Gateway to College (GtC) program helps high school dropouts earn a diploma while easing them into the college environment, preparing them for post-secondary success. The GtC model bridges the gap between school districts and colleges, helping struggling students without enough credits to graduate on time to earn their high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credit toward a post-secondary degree. GtC is reducing the dropout rate and helping students get the education they need to succeed. Please click here to get more information on Gateway to College.


All webinars are 30 minutes long, below are the next two scheduled webinars. Please register by clicking the link below your chosen time.


Tuesday, June 10th at 9am PST

Wednesday, July 9th at 11:30am PST


If you have any additional questions, please contact:

Mary Brown

Education Services Consultant

Phone: (971) 634-1534


Peer Learning Conference

Gateway to College is proud to announce the 10th annual Peer Learning Conference. The Peer Learning Conference is a unique opportunity for leaders in college-based reengagement programs to share innovative strategies for educating and supporting disconnected youth.



July 28th-30th

Boston, MA

Click here to learn more.

Learning Opportunity 

Disability Studies Programs at CUNY School of Professional Studies


CUNY logo The disability studies programs at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) have been recognized by The New York Times as being among the top three in the country. Started in 2004, CUNY SPS has a decade of experience in educating the frontline workforce, supervisors, and managers. Its disability studies degree programs offer an opportunity for staff to develop new skills, deepen their understanding of disability, and earn valuable credentials that can lead to career advancement and increased opportunity.


As services become decentralized, practical skills informed by critical thinking and judgment are becoming more important for direct support professionals, supervisors, and program managers. The disability studies programs at CUNY SPS address these important needs with convenient courses offered online and face-to-face at its NYC campus. Additionally, the School's competitive tuition rates make access to education even easier, especially for those who believe that pursuing a degree is out of reach. In fact, Affordable Colleges Online recently ranked CUNY SPS number one among online colleges in New York that win on affordability. Here's a look at what they have to offer:


CUNY SPS is happy to answer any questions that you may have about these programs. Contact them at or 212.652.2869.

YOUTH POWER! is the New York State network of young people who have been labeled and are seeking change.  Together, we have decided to speak up about our experiences because no one knows what it is like for us better than we do.  Through peer-to-peer mentoring, we empower young people to be active citizens who are aware of government operations, their rights and the ability to use their voices to influence policies, practices, regulations and laws.  We are young people helping other people, ensuring availability of self-help and peer support while changing systems so that young people get the support they need with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Nothing About Us Without Us!

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