Mental Health America Dutchess County provides a range of programs to help children and teens cope with mental health issues affecting them and family members. For more, see Parents and Families.

CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocates

CASA advocates for children in or at risk for foster care placement. Trained volunteers ensure that cases progress promptly through the system. MHADC’s CASA is part of state and national networks that set standards for quality and performance. Children must be referred to CASA by a Family Court judge. For details, or to learn about becoming a volunteer advocate, contact Desiree King at 845-473-2500, ext. 1323.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAKids on the Block

Kids on the Block features nearly life-size puppets that educate and entertain young children stimulating communication about complex issues. Children learn healthy life skills that increase awareness and understanding.

Programs are available free to schools and youth groups on the following topics: bullies, gangs, and school safety; obesity, multiculturalism, learning disabilities, substance abuse prevention, and emotional and mental well being. For more information or to find about about becoming a puppeteer, e-mail Marlene Taylor or phone 845-473-2500, ext. 1309.


Respite supports families with children ages 4 to 18 who are in counselling for serious emotional disorders (SED). Children are carefully paired with trained staff members who meet them weekly for one-on-one activities at home and in the community. There are also monthly group excursions providing parents or other caregivers with a break. Respite also helps families get scholarships for summer camp programs for SED children. For details, contact Julie Simpson at 845-473-2500, ext. 1324. Please note: there is a waiting list for Respite, however, since participation is limited to one year, openings occur regularly.

Sibling Support

Sibling support groups help young people better understand and cope with a brother or sister’s mental illness. SibShops are for children ages 4-12. Building Bridges is for teens 13-18.  Search our calendar for SibShops or Building Bridges to get dates and locationsFor more information, contact Kat Weaver at 845-473-2500, ext. 1375.

Teen Challenge

Teen Challenge uses evidence-based curricula to support youth 14-19 with serious emotional disorders. The program includes weekly gatherings for skill building, discussion, and fund plus monthly recreational activities or community service projects. To see Teen Challenge dates and locations, go to our calendar.) For additional information, contact Jennifer at 845-473-2500, ext. 1358. Many adolescents who participate in Teen Challenge enroll in MHADC’s Young Adult Transition program when they turn 20.