What is Contact Community Services?
Contact Community Services, Inc. is a multi-faceted organization that supports the social, emotional, behavioral and mental health of children, youth, and adults. We deliver this support through three broad program areas:
Contact began in 1971 as a volunteer-based telephone counseling service for Central New York. Since then, our scope of services and staff has steadily expanded. In the early 1980s, we began offering classroom programs focusing on social and emotional learning, including interpersonal skills and managing emotions. We continued to expand our children and youth development programming into community settings. We also began collaborating with educators, mental health professionals and other community members to improve learning environments through school and district-wide training and consultation addressing nonacademic barriers to learning. In 2009, Contact affiliated with the Mental Health Association of Onondaga County (MHA), bringing an expansion of services that included mental health workshops for adults. During these decades, telephone services has steadily grown to include the 24-hour telephone counseling, suicide and crisis line; staffing of Helpline; the Onondaga County telephone and web-based information and referral service; mental health information and referral; hotline coverage for a nearby county, and other special lines.
Today, Contact Community Services is a multi-faceted organization that supports the social, emotional, behavioral and mental health of children, youth and adults. We deliver this support through three broad program areas: Crisis Services, School Services and Training & Education.
We provide a free, confidential 24-hour, 7-day a week counseling, suicide and crisis hotline and referral service for individuals looking for information on health and human services agencies. We answer calls on the local Contact Hotline, 211CNY and serve as a crisis call center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline throughout the Central New York region, as well as Westchester, Albany, Greene and Columbia counties.
We also support academic achievement by addressing barriers to learning. We provide evidence-based school programs, such as youth development, behavioral intervention, social and emotional learning, school-based mental health and substance abuse counseling, and school-wide substance abuse awareness programs. We are currently located in five school districts throughout Central New York providing these support services to administrators, teachers, students and families.
Additionally, Contact provides suicide prevention and mental health training to community organizations, business and school districts all free of charge throughout CNY. Our classes teach individuals how to recognize suicide warning signs, assess risk, respond in a supportive manner, intervene, connect a person with a trained professional or community resource, and develop a safety plan.
We are proud of the work we do to help create a suicide-safer community and reduce barriers associated with mental health challenges.
Affiliations and Certifications
The Contact Hotline is one of about 80 centers nationally that meets the strict standards and criteria required to be certified by The American Association of Suicidology (AAS). AAS accreditation validates service delivery programs that are performing according to nationally recognized standards and best practices. Contact has been certified since 1991 and undergoes re-certification every five years, most recently in 2021. Additionally, Contact has been certified to provide Crisis Chat since 2016.
Our program is also a member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a nationwide network of crisis centers. Calls originating from anywhere in the country are routed, 24 hours a day, to the nearest available crisis center. The Contact Hotline is the call center for nine counties in central and northern New York State.
Contact is also a member of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) which sets standards for information and referral services, most recently accredited in 2021.
We also hold an operating certificate from the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. This certificate is required so that we may provide prevention services through our Student Assistance Program.
Seven staff members are certified instructors of Mental Health First Aid. Certified instructors may teach the 8-hour Mental Health First Aid to any interested audiences in their communities. Instructors undergo tight credentialing by the national authorities to guarantee strict fidelity to the core Mental Health First Aid USA program model, while also maintaining the flexibility necessary to reach their unique audience needs and direct them to local resources for help.
Contact Community Services coordinates Primary Project for East Syracuse Minoa Central School District, Liverpool Central School District and Syracuse City School District. Primary Project developed by the Children’s Institute is recognized by the U.S. and New York State Departments of Education as an exemplary prevention program.
Staff members also participate in a wide range of community task forces and initiatives.
Our Administrative Office and Training Center
For the first time in its history, Contact owns its own administrative office and training center. We purchased and renovated 6311 Court Street Road, East Syracuse for occupancy in summer of 2012.
A large training center for school and community workshops was furnished and equipped in part by a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. This space has allowed us to expand capacity, improve comfort, and increase effectiveness of our educational services. Many of our programs operate off-site at area schools and staff members maintain offices at those locations as well as at our administrative office.
Make a Donation
In honor of Contact’s 50th anniversary, consider making a donation today. Help us continue to bring hope and light to those in need in our community.