Family Service League (FSL), established in 1926, has offices in East Hampton, Greenport, Mattituck, Riverhead, and Westhampton Beach. FSL also has offices throughout western Suffolk County, including Huntington, Bay Shore, Central Islip and Mastic. This Long Island non-profit human service organization provides “a safety net for people in need.”
FSL reaches 50,000 people annually, offering 60 programs at 20 locations, and addresses some of the most prevalent and pressing human needs facing Long Island communities by delivering tangible help and crisis intervention across a spectrum of service areas including mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, homelessness, job training, trauma counseling, early education, and family and senior support services.
Karen Boorshtein, FSL President and CEO, advised, “The overwhelming life challenges that we as a community are facing have been exacerbated by the additional stressors associated with COVID-19, making FSL’s programs a lifeline for many Long Islanders.”
Continuing, “We have seen an increase in families reaching out for the basic necessities such as food and assistance with utility bills. This is a result of mounting debt for families who may be unemployed/underemployed as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, these stressors have increased depression and anxiety for children and adults, and many are now seeking counseling to help address these issues. For some, this may be the first time they have sought help.”
The expansion of FSL’s telehealth services include (1) Counseling available to children and their families through the South Fork and North Fork Initiatives in coordination with local school districts; (2) FSL social workers based in several major South Fork pediatric practices who provide counseling to children and teens. “This resource became even more significant in this new era of distance learning and isolation,” Boorshtein revealed; (3) FSL’s 24-hour DASH Stabilization Center & Hotline at 631-952-3333. “This program is a beacon of hope for all Suffolk County residents who are struggling to cope with mental health issues (such as anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder) or addiction disorders.”
Additionally, FSL expanded the services at the Riverhead Clinic (400 West Main Street) to include the East End Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). “The CCBHC offers access to care and stabilizes those in crisis who are struggling with mental health issues and/or substance use disorders. This convenient community-based outpatient program was created for children and adults residing in Eastern Suffolk County; and (4) Community Advocacy, Information & Referral (CAIR) programs for clients and families financially and emotionally struggling for necessities due to lack of employment and limited job opportunities. Food pantry items, emergency assistance, and resource referrals are in constant demand,” relayed Boorshtein.
Additional services being considered are Senior Advocacy Services, Caregiver Support, Continuing Education Classes, and Support groups for those who have lost loved ones to addiction or suicide.
Specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boorshtein advised, “FSL has been providing an array of assistance to individuals and families affected by this health emergency through its broad spectrum of services. Throughout the pandemic, FSL has helped clients who have been exposed to the virus, those economically or emotionally affected by the situation, those who have gotten sick, and those who have lost loved ones.”
Further, Boorshtein conveyed that some of these vital services include: “Counselors assist people with navigating testing and making sure those in need have access to medical are with referrals for additional resources; FSL staff provides counseling to those who have been emotionally impacted and those who experienced tragic loss of family members; Direct relief/emergency assistance for struggling financially; Care management and counseling via telehealth offers support for those seeking help or continuing their existing treatment plan; Trauma and crisis counseling program is available to front-line workers and first-responders, to provide them with support and strategies for coping with the overwhelming and unprecedented stress levels of this situation; Housing assistance to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness; Initiatives that reach out to seniors who are at high risk, including the FSL Ombudsman program where our coordinators help the residents, and their families, of long-term care and assisted living facilities navigate the myriad of challenges they have been facing. This is a FREE service which has trained Ombudsman interfacing with facility management and staff to advocate for patient/resident rights and information. This has been especially useful since families had limited access to visiting their loved ones and not getting timely information about their health status. Contact the FSL Ombudsman program at 631-470-6755.”
Concluding, Boorshtein stated, “FSL has been a trusted partner in our Long Island communities for decades. Please do not hesitate to reach out, we are here to help. Visit www.fsl-li.org for a complete listing of our 60 programs, or call our 24-hour hotline at 631-952-3333.”