ABOUT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
At the SAFE Program, we are dedicated to the health and safety of our clients and clinicians. As a result of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Emergency Declaration, the staff of the SAFE Program is working remotely providing telehealth services. This interactive telecommunication technology includes audio and video.
If you need to reach someone at the SAFE program, you can still leave a voice message on their office phone; a clinician will return your call as soon as possible.
If you are experiencing a clinical emergency, please contact Re:Solve Crisis Services at 1-888-796-8226.
What is SAFE?
The SSU/SAFE Collaborative Treatment Program provides services to families whose children have been adjudicated or placed on a consent decree for engaging in illegal sexual behaviors. The program integrates the services provided by probation officers from the Special Services Unit (SSU) and clinicians from the Services for Adolescent and Family Enrichment (SAFE) Program of UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. This program has been in operation since 1998.
The SSU/SAFE Program provides therapeutic and probationary services based on a thorough youth and family evaluation. Ongoing communication is maintained to: monitor the progress of each case, share important details and provide feedback to families. Our overall goal is to promote public safety and personal accountability and to improve community-based treatment. All families are mandated to this program by a court order.
A SAFE staff member conducts an initial evaluation with the youth and family to identify individualized goals for services. This evaluation is required and generally takes 3 to 4 appointments. Services with the youth and family begin when this is completed.
The SSU effectively supervises and provides specialized treatment services through community monitoring and group counseling. Supervision/treatment of the youth involves contact 2-3 times weekly with SSU Probation Officers Clyde Schneider, Chris Waltz, and Missy Whitenight. If a probation problem occurs, the youth may be sanctioned or referred back to Court. The SSU supervisor is Angela Wyman.
SAFE clinicians conduct a diagnostic evaluation, and provide individual and family therapy, support and advocacy services, and/or parent education. Medication management is provided by the SAFE Medical Director, Kristen Eckstrand, MD, PhD. All treatment sessions are held in the clinic. Services are provided by Jessica Gahr, MA, Caroline Barensfeld, MA, Michelle Hernandez, LSW, and Patrick McCormick, MA. The Program Manager is Eunice Torres, MS, and the Program Director is David Kolko, PhD, ABPP.
Groups for youth are led by the SSU Probation Officers and the SAFE Clinical Team. Groups take place at Bellefield Towers in Oakland. Caretakers are required to attend the first group session to review the rules and expectations of the group process as well as the last treatment group. Throughout this program, a Caretakers Group will be offered approximately once per month to provide updates and discuss important issues on the same day as their kids' group.
The SAFE Program has a voluntary research component. The forms completed by the youth and primary caretaker can also be used to help us evaluate the outcome of our program. All forms are confidential.
Each youth and caregiver who agrees to participate in our research component will receive $20.00 for completing the intake assessment and $40.00 for completing the discharge assessment.
Youth/families are expected to attend their weekly sessions and, when necessary, to cancel in advance. We encourage honesty and clear communication.
Ask the Program Manager
Do you have a question for us? Contact Eunice Torres, the Program Manager, to get in touch. Please note that due to HIPPAA regulations, the SAFE program will not be able to contact you via e-mail about treatment details.
Eunice Torres, MS
(412) 439-4077 (Cell)
If you are experiencing a clinical emergency and are in need of immediate assistance, please contact ReSolve Crisis Services at 1-888-796-8226. ReSolve's services are available for children and adults.
ReSolve is available 24 hours a day and can help if you are feeling depressed, lonely, bullied, or just stressed and need to talk to someone. Trained and qualified counselors answer the phone and there is NO COST or other requirement for using their services.
Other Resources for Parents
For more information and resources directed toward parents of children with sexual behavior problems, please take a look at the website of the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth.
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SAFE Brochure (PDF)