Respite and Camp Success

Respite’s mission is to support families with children struggling with the challenges of Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) by providing a break from the continuous tasks and pressures of caring for them, while also providing the children with therapeutic activities and relationships designed to build self-esteem and develop social skills.  Respite can take a number of forms but each is based on the premise that by having periods of relief, a family is better able to cope with the intense day-to-day demands of living with a special needs child.  In addition, Respite can often provide a fallback plan in case of crisis.

Respite services are designed to supplement the services available to these children and their families through children’s case management programs as well as the Family Ties parent support groups.  Services are meant to be individualized to meet the needs of the child and family, while drawing on whatever natural supports and strengths are available within the family and community.  Respite is part of a collaborative System of Care in Westchester County, the overarching purpose of which is to build strengths and supports in order to safely maintain these children in the community and, ideally, prevent further hospitalizations or other out-of-home placements.  Within Westchester County, FSW’s Respite Program is the only program offering this type of service to children and families.  Door to door transportation is provided for all of Respite’s programming.


Year Round Programming

Weekend Success offers children a chance to experience recreational outings in the community.  Always safe and structured, and with a staff to child ratio of 1:2, these trips give Respite’s children a chance to build self esteem, develop positive relationships, experience positive role modeling, and, of course, to have fun.  The trips run year round on Friday evenings and on Saturdays and Sundays.  Trips include everything from playgrounds to plays to bowling alleys to dinners out in Manhattan.

Many children in Respite also benefit from one-on-one mentoring and skillbuilding.  These relationships not only allow children to work on the general goals of Respite, such as having fun and building social skills, but also allow them to work on more specific goals that are developed by the family, the case manager and the child him or herself.


Camp Success

Camp Success is the Respite Program’s summertime “camp on wheels.”  Campers are picked up every day and brought to various activities in the community.  While Camp Success spends a lot of time at the pool, events also include local beaches, zoos and amusement parks when the weather is nice, and bowling, museums and roller skating on rainy days, to name a few of the places campers visit.

Camp Success runs four days a week for seven weeks.  On Fridays, staff members meet to discuss the progress and strengths of the campers.  These discussions result in “Success Reports” that are meant to highlight the achievements and progress of all campers; they are discussed with the campers and caregivers each week.

Always strength based, Camp Success is predicated on the idea that there is a way for every child to succeed, and that success is different for every child.  Despite the fact that many of our campers do not have typical camps available to them, Camp Success boasts a success rate close to 100%.


Additional Respite

Social Stars After School Program: This small after school program designed for 6 children ages 6-11 is implemented in conjunction with the Yonkers Community Action Program (YCAP.)  Eligibility is the same as for the general Respite Program.

Overnight Respite: Uses certified homes from Family Partnership Program (Family Services of Westchester) for planned overnight or weekend respite.

Crisis Respite: Informal Crisis Respite can sometime be arranged through FSW’s Respite Program if a child is in special need of a weekend trip or one-on-one attention during a difficult time or unusual circumstances.

Special Events: The Respite Program invites all families from all referring programs to our annual Holiday Family Party for an afternoon of family recreation.

The Respite Program staff also provides recreation and supervision for the children of Family Ties’ families at their annual picnic.


Respite works with children ages 5-17, who are living in the community and receiving intensive case management services.  Some spaces are also reserved for children whose caregivers have had long term involvement with Family Ties family support.  Children must be classified as struggling with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) or at risk of being SED and be referred by one of these sources.

Respite is also able to provide weekend Respite outings and Family Respite Planning to families receiving Preventive Services from Westchester County’s Department of Social Services through our Expanded Respite for Preventive Service Families.

Patrick Schelle, Respite/Camp Success Director & Youth Forum Coordinator
Ashley Gordon, Respite Coordinator
Portia Jones, Preventative Service Coordinator
Tangi Walker Rennalls, Intensive Crisis Respite Specialist (County Wide Team)
Stephanie Guiracocha, Intensive Crisis Respite Specialist (Yonkers School Team)
Lois Fendler, Respite Administrator
Social Stars After School Program914-422-8100