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Crisis Stabilization and Diagnostic Services

A short-term crisis stabilization and diagnostic residence for young children

The Schaffer Children’s Shelter in Schenectady is an 8-bed diagnostic facility that serves children ages 4–12 licensed by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS). The facility provides comprehensive diagnostic services and emergency respite, with an emphasis on creating a plan for success for the child and family. Northern Rivers provides programming and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Often children with histories of trauma exhibit behaviors that become unmanageable in their home. The children’s shelter offers a complete 30- to 45-day diagnostic that includes a comprehensive psychosocial and behavioral assessment, as well as psychiatric, individual psychological, and family psychological assessment. These assessments are conducted by three doctors, each of whom is licensed in his or her respective field. Using three doctors allows for a comprehensive overview of the child and family. The staff of the children’s shelter prides themselves in providing recommendations and a road map for success for each child and family.

Schaffer Children’s Shelter also provides brief emergency respite for children in crisis. These are children who are not in need of hospitalization, but who can benefit from a short stay away from their family home. Emergency respite can provide families with a much-needed break, while preventing out-of-home placement for their children.


  • Behavior management
  • Comprehensive psychological assessment
    • Projective and IQ testing
    • Psychiatric assessment
    • Family assessment
    • Comprehensive write-up synthesizing doctors’ assessments and the behavioral observations of the youth in the facility
    • Comprehensive document provided at the conclusion of the assessment to the local district, which contains all reports and assessments


  • The child is stabilized
  • The child has improved daily functioning at home, in school, and in the community
  • Caregivers are more understanding of and better prepared to manage their child’s behaviors and emotional needs
  • Caregivers gain a better understanding of how the child’s and family’s background impacts their current functioning
  • The family receives a comprehensive document detailing the services provided, which can then offer guidance to future service providers
  • The family receives a comprehensive genogram of the family; this pictorial representation of a child’s family relationships and medical history helps highlight and analyze hereditary patterns and psychological factors affecting relationships.

Getting Started

The diagnostic program is available to youth ages of 4–12 who are currently in the care and custody of their county’s Department of Social Services (DSS). Emergency respite is available to some private insurance companies and certain local county mental health offices. For more information on how Schaffer Children’s Shelter can help or to arrange for a tour, contact: Barb Chaires, Intake Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 518.346.4251, ext. 4302.