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Franziska Racker Centers is a voluntary not-for-profit dedicated to creating opportunities for people with disabilities and their families. Throughout the organization’s history, its goal has always been to be responsive to the needs of individuals not only to provide services, but also to offer each person and family opportunities for growth and learning.

laughing student with counselor

Racker Centers’ founding in 1948 was based on valuing diversity and on appreciating the many things all people have in common. Its vision and guiding principles, as well as the Circle of Courage, universally apply to all people, including those it serves and Racker Centers’ employees. Racker Centers currently serves over 3,000 individuals and their families with approximately 200,000 individual services from our main service areas. Licensed by five state agencies, Racker Centers offers a range of services including preschool special education, clinical therapies, mental health treatment programs, residential opportunities and community support services. The organization serves people of all ages from newborns to senior citizens with diverse strengths and needs. With over 30 sites in Tompkins, Cortland and Tioga Counties, Racker Centers employs more than 750 people, making it one of the top 10 employers in our area. Racker Centers envisions a world where all people belong.

Supporting the social and emotional needs of young people is a high priority of Franziska Racker Centers. Through school-based programs, they offer psychological assessments, individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, family support, classroom consultations, psychiatric services and case management. Racker Centers’ programs assist in developing a better understanding of the needs of students, improved interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities and management of strong emotions. Counseling for School Success includes three general program areas that operate in collaboration between Franziska Racker Centers and TST BOCES.

Turning Point is both a day treatment program licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health and a program that offers more traditional school counseling services. Psychiatric services and more intensive family support is unique to the day treatment program. This program works with students referred by their school districts who have a significant history of emotional and behavioral needs. Racker Centers’ comprehensive mental health services are integrated into the student’s academic program. The treatment team includes the student, family, teacher and counselor working together to identify goals and strategies to better understand the needs of the students, help them stabilize and learn new skills. The hope is that most students will be able to return to their home school after a period of treatment.

Lighthouse Classrooms serve students at the elementary level and middle and high school age level. This program is short-term and focuses on students who are experiencing emotional trauma or crisis in their lives or may be beginning to display early signs of emotional or behavioral needs that put them at risk for more restrictive programming in the future. The goal is to obtain a more complete assessment of the needs of the student, teach necessary coping and social skills and to make community connections for ongoing support. The classrooms, staffed by certified teachers, assist students in staying current with their academic program during their stay.

The Possibilities program provides outreach and support to the students in crisis who are best served by remaining in their original classroom setting. Students receiving this service have intensive case management support, referral services and goal-oriented, short-term counseling. In addition, Possibilities social workers offer support to teachers and parents as they communicate about their perspectives and jointly plan for the student.

The Collaborative Solutions Network (CSN) is a group of over 250 local providers, families, educators and community members who work together to inspire positive system change on both the individual and system-wide levels. The CSN’s promise statement is: To create opportunities for children, youth, families and community supports to work together in a comprehensive, community-wide approach to foster social and emotional well-being. The entire CSN meets on a bimonthly basis while smaller groups work on strategic planning goals on the opposite months. If you are interested in learning more about CSN, please contact Serena Ward, the administrative assistant at Serenaw@rackercenters.org or visit the website at collaborativesolutionsnetwork.org.

For any questions, or more information, please contact:

Mary Hutchens
Director of Counseling for School Success
607-257-1551, ext. 5018
maryhcss@rackercenters.org

Donna Smith O’Connell
Administrative Secretary
607-257-1551, ext. 5030
donnas@rackercenters.org

Jaydn McCune
Program Director for Collaborative Solutions Network, Possibilities, Little Lighthouse and Lighthouse
607-257-1551, ext. 5046
jaydnmcss@rackercenters.org