News Articles

Saint Dominic’s Family Services, Supporting Families and the Staff that Serve Them


Since 1878, St. Dominic’s Family Services (SDFS) has been a resource to support children and families. /Brian Wagenheim   

By Jim Sliney Jr

Since 1878, the organization that is now known as St. Dominic’s Family Services (SDFS) has been a resource to support children and families. The mission has grown and evolved over time and now they provide services like

  • Therapeutic pre-school for special-needs and non-disabled children
  • Pre-K that follows the Prekindergarten Foundation Common Core
  • An adult mental health program, including supportive housing
  • Coordinated Children’s Care to support family stability
  • A therapeutic residential program for the developmentally disabled
  • Foster care and adoption services

That’s a lot to manage, especially during the physical distancing limitations imposed during the Coronavirus. But when St. Dominic’s chief operating officer, Diane Aquino was asked if services were still available, she offered reassurance.

“Six weeks ago,” Diane explained, “as we began to understand the potential impact of COVOID-19, our agency developed alternate means of service delivery and support in accordance with our agency mission as well as newly issued, pandemic specific State, Federal and Local guidelines.

“The use of tele-health has been the main form of communication between staff, clients and families. This means of communication, for example, in our foster care and children's community-based programs has served as a guiding resource in a time where face-to-face contact has been minimized. All clients and families in need have been issued Chromebooks/Laptops, to offer ongoing, virtual communication. Internet availability has been gained for clients/families in need.

“In addition, all of our programs maintain ongoing staggered presence during normal work hours so if face-to-face contact is needed, staff is there to support this. In our schools, which are both Rockland and Bronx based, we have switched to on-line learning platforms and all of our children continue a daily structured education schedule.”

Diana also explained that the schools for children with special needs were relying on tele-health to adhere to Department of Education guidelines. Additionally, the supported residential programs which operate 24/7 have relied on extensive planning to minimize health risks for residents and staff. That includes training for handling clients and coordination with local hospitals and clinics, providing personal protective equipment and making mental health services available to staff.

CONTACTING ST. DOMINIC’S FAMILY SERVICES

Anyone in need of reaching St. Dominic’s may do so by calling 845-359-3400. All departments and services are available through that number.

Existing clients for all programs have been provided with 24/7 toll free numbers.

You can also reach SDFS through their web portal https://www.sdfs.org/contact-us .

Catholic Charities of New York and their Federation of agencies remain active, and are proving flexible enough to meet the changes in both human need and practical delivery.