SafeTogether 2017-06-05T04:12:47+00:00

Children at Risk

Children at RiskThere are more than one million adults in the United States with a serious mental illness. As many as 70 percent of them lose custody of their children. Child & Family Connections’ groundbreaking solution, SafeTogether, teaches parents how to create a legally binding family plan that ensures a responsible adult is caring for the children in the home. It also provides assurances that the parent is receiving effective and appropriate psychiatric care so the family can return to everyday life.

The SafeTogether Solution

The SafeTogether SolutionOften, when a parent exhibits symptoms, Child Protective Services investigates the household. Even in the absence of evidence of neglect or abuse, without a competent adult in the home, they are required to remove the children, resettling them in out-of-home placement or foster care.

In fact, psychiatric disabilities are the most frequent disabilities used to terminate parental rights.

In SafeTogether, parents establish an integrated support team of friends, family and health professionals with defined roles and responsibilities. Children who are developmentally appropriate are involved in aspects of the plan design and creation.

Beyond the classroom, each family receives individual coaching sessions to help them implement their plan.

A triggering event—such as a parent feeling unwell or a support team member’s heightened concern—sets the plan into action. As the family’s need changes, so too does the SafeTogether plan.

We can teach parents how to implement just such a plan. For details, please contact us »

SafeTogether Advisory Board


Evan Kaplan                          

Executive Sponsor
Executive Director
Child & Family Connections

Joe Lavoritano                                  

Executive Sponsor
Board Chair, Programming Committee
Child & Family Connections

Patty Burke

Executive Sponsor
Board Treasurer
Child & Family Connections

David Fair      

Deputy Exec Director
Turning Points for Children

Kathleen Creamer, Esq.        

Managing Attorney
Community Legal Services

Sue Walther   

Executive Director
Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania

Toni  Wolf

Executive Director
Employment Options, Inc.

Joanne Nicholson, PhD                                          

Professor of Psychiatry
Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center


Carol Horwitz, Esq.   

Executive Director
Disability Rights Pennsylvania

Larry Real, MD          

Chief Medical Officer
Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services

Laura Deriggi 

Director, Integrated Clinical Consultation Services
Community Behavioral Services

Valerie Oulds, Esq.   

Head of Children’s Transformation Initiatives
Community Behavioral Health

Julia Lekner-Leslie    

Clinical Care Management Coordinator
Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services

Fran Gutterman         

Senior Director
Casey Family Foundation

Sandra Bloom, MD    

Associate Professor, Health Management and Policy
Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, Drexel University

Barra FoundationSafeTogether is funded by The Barra Foundation. Program partners include Community Legal Services, Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, and the Mental Health Association of Pennsylvania.