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Children's Friend and Family Services

The situation re:  COVID-19 has been changing daily, sometimes hourly and it is a time of great anxiety for us all.  At JRI, we have a tremendous team of dedicated professionals who are working tirelessly to ensure continuity of care.   All Community Based and Outpatient Service are actively working with clients, with no interruption to service and we continue to be prepared to accept new referrals. 


Families are important. They nurture us. They teach us. They protect us. They serve as our primary caregivers. Simply put – when families are strong, communities thrive.

Since 1837, Children’s Friend and Family Services has committed itself to a sustainable, long term vision of creating and cultivating a community of loving, caring, capable families. Throughout the years, we have been partnering with families in the face of difficulties, loss, trauma, and mental illness.

CFFS logo
At a Glance
This service is for
Focus: We use evidence-based, cutting-edge treatments to respond to the needs of the children and families in our communities.
Age: All
Gender: male, female, transgender, non-conforming
Let's Connect
Kelsey Tam, LICSW
Area Director, Salem and Cape Ann
110 Boston Street
Salem MA 01970
(978) 744-7905
(978) 740-9145
Matthew Peiken, LICSW
Greater Lynn Area Director
112 Market Street, 2nd Fl.
Lynn MA 01901
(781) 592-5691
(781) 595-1081
Amy Ackroyd, LICSW
Merrimack Valley Area Director
15 Union Street, Entrance C, 2nd Floor, Suite 200
Lawrence, MA 01841
(978) 682-7289
(978) 686-2954
Crystal Contrino, LMHC
Blackburn Center 3 & 4
Second Floor
Gloucester, MA 01930
(978) 283-7198
About CFFS

We understand that there’s no such thing as a perfect family. At some point, we’ll all be affected by one hardship or another. While no one is impervious to the strains of family life, not all families have the resources to deal with them. In many cases, some of those challenges are just too difficult to handle alone. That’s why we’re here.

Every day, we come to work ready to help people who span the socio-economic scope improve their lives and better their families. We welcome your interest in supporting our mission “To improve the lives of children and promote strong families.”

Artwork by CFFS clients


Stephanie Sladen
Stephanie Sladen, LICSW
Executive Director of CFFS and Vice President of JRI

Stephanie holds her Master's degree in social work and is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.  Stephanie joined JRI in 2017 when Children's Friend and Family Services merged with JRI and became a part of its Community Based Services Division and she was promoted to Executive Director and became a Vice President for JRI.  Stephanie has advanced training and experience in clinical practice with children and adolescents as well as non-profit management and leadership and has worked with children and families for the past eighteen years on the North Shore of Massachusetts.  In her previous role as Vice President of Children's Behavioral Health Services at Lahey Health Behavioral Services, she developed and oversaw the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative programs and worked closely with the Department of Mental Health and Department of Children and Families, as well as the North Shore United Way.  Ms. Sladen actively participates in several statewide committees through the Association for Behavioral Healthcare and currently serves as the Chair of the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative Committee.  In October of 2013, she was honored with the first Annual Elizabeth Funk Emerging Leader Award from ABH.

Amy Ackroyd
Amy Ackroyd, LICSW
Merrimack Valley Area Director
Christin Brown
Christin Brown, LICSW
Area Director, Salem and Cape Ann
Amina Efstratios
Amina Efstratios
Business Manager
Matt Peiken
Matthew Peiken, LICSW
Greater Lynn Area Director
Stephen Surpitski
Stephen Surpitski
Finance Manager
Maira Walker
Maira Walker
Business Support Specialist / HR Rep
CFFS Male Employee with Yankees Hat
Staff from Children's Friend Lawrence location
CFFS Female Employee with pink scarf
Community Service Agency (CSA)

Our CSAs, which serve the Lynn and Lawrence catchment areas, provide Intensive Care Coordination and Family Support and Training  to over 200 local youths with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) and complex needs by using a wraparound approach that creates, puts in place and monitors an individual care plan that addresses the specific needs of the family.  Learn more about CSAs and see other CSA locations at JRI.

In-Home Therapy

In-Home Therapy is a structured, consistent, strengths-based therapeutic relationship between a team of clinicians and the youth and family for the purpose of treating the youth's social, emotional and behavioral health needs.  There is also a specific emphasis placed on improving the family's ability to provide effective support for their children in the home with the goal of avoiding admission to an inpatient hospital, psychiatric residential treatment facility or other intensive treatment setting.  Learn more about In-Home Therapy at JRI.

Therapeutic Mentoring

Therapeutic Mentoring is structured one-to-one, strengths-based support services for at-risk youth with an emphasis on daily living, social and communication skills.  Our program utilizes a variety of interventions to help children reach their goals, including:

  • Enhanced interpersonal skills
  • Increased emotional control
  • Better problem solving skills
  • Improved communication with both peers and adults

Youth must be referred to the Therapeutic Mentoring program through Outpatient Mental Health Counseling, In-Home Therapy or Intensive Care Coordination to qualify.

Learn more about Therapeutic Mentoring at JRI.

Outpatient Mental Health Counseling

We provide outpatient services to children with mental health issues associated with emotional, behavioral, social or developmental delays.  We provide individual, family and group counseling in additional to psychopharmacology.  Our clinicians specialize in treating concerns related to depression, anxiety, trauma, school difficulties, behavioral issues, self-injurious / high risk behaviors, pervasive development disorders, in addition to providing help with parenting skills.  We offer evidence-based treatment such as the Positive Parenting Program Triple P,  Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC), and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT).  

Our outpatient offices are located in Salem, Lynn, Gloucester and Lawrence.

Gloucester Office: Blackburn Center 3 & 4, Second Floor, Gloucester, MA  01930  (978) 283-7198

Lawrence Office: 15 Union Street, Suite 200, Lawrence, MA  01840  (978) 682-7289

Lynn Office: 112 Market Street, 2nd Floor, Lynn, MA  01901  (781) 592-5691

Salem Office: 110 Boston Street, Salem, MA  01970  (978) 744-7905



Juvenile Court Clinic

Since 1997, CFFS has been providing court clinic support for the Essex County Juvenile Court system including Lynn, Lawrence, Newburyport, and Salem.  Our highly trained staff of social workers, psychologists and case manager work collaboratively to provide consultations and court-ordered diagnostic and forensic evaluations.  In addition we participate in various teams and initiatives in the community which help to improve access and services for the children and families with whom we work.

We offer a number of services, including:

  • Working collaboratively with state agencies, school personnel, law enforcement, families and behavioral health providers
  • Providing resource and referral information with regard to behavioral health treatment and services in our community
  • Working with  children and families to stabilize behavior, reduce crisis, address treatment needs and reduce further court involvement

Learn more about Juvenile Court Clinics at JRI.

Young Parent Support

Young Parent Support is a non judgmental, supportive program designed to meet the needs of expecting and/or parenting families.  There is no restriction on the child's age or number of children.  Participants are eligible up to age twenty-three.  The goals of Young Parent Support Program are to assist young parents in:

  • Learning parenting skills that support both the parent and the child
  • Learning skills that support independence and self sufficiency as young adults
  • Learning healthy growth and development for infants, young children and young adults

Our services are free and confidential.  A flexible appointment schedule is available and visits are home-based. 

Services Provided:

  • Home Visiting
  • Case Management
  • Referral to Needed Services
  • Transportation

Education Components

  • Health and Wellness Education
  • Child Development Education
  • Assistance in Meeting Vocational Goals
  • Education in Healthy Relationships
  • Assistance in Meeting
  • Educational Goals 
  • Parenting Skills Education

Community Involvement

  • Financial Counseling Services
  • Medical Assistance
  • Housing Assistance
  • Mental Health & Substance Use Services
  • Parenting Groups
  • Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA)
  • Nutritional Counseling (WIC)
  • Childcare Providers
  • Recreational Activities for Families
  • Career Centers/Employment Specialists
  • Legal Assistance

These services are open to residents of Lowell and Lynn and neighboring communities.  Learn more about JRI's Young Parent Support Program in the Attleboro area.

Parents as Teachers

Parents As Teachers (PAT) is a modeled certified program that emphasizes parent-child interaction, development centered parenting, and family well-being.  The PAT program works with parents from prenatal to kindergarten age by doing family centered assessments and following structured curriculum.  

Each participant is assigned a certified Parent Educator.  A certified Parent Educator will do four interrelated and integrated components to the PAT model:

  1. Personal Visits
  2. Group Connections
  3. Screening
  4. Resource Networking

How We Can Help

The PAT model is designed to achieve four primary goals:

  1. Increase parent knowledge of early childhood development & improve parenting practice
  2. Provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues
  3. Prevent child abuse and neglect
  4. Increase children's school readiness and school success

Who is eligible?

To enroll in the PAT program, the parent must meet some simple requirements:

  • Reside in the Greater Lawrence area
  • Be pregnant or have a child up to kindergarten age (age 5)
  • Be present for and participate actively in all scheduled visits

We provide Coordinated Specialty Care for people experiencing symptoms such as: marked change in thoughts or new decline in social functioning, feelings of unease or paranoia, or sometimes auditory or visual hallucinations. These experiences can sometimes be labeled as psychosis symptoms. Research shows that getting the right type of help for these kinds of concerns will help reduce the risk that they will continue or occur again.

Psychosis can be hard to talk about because of stigma around it in our culture, movies and TV; but the truth is that it is much more common than most people think. The PEACE team focuses on information and hope for optimal recovery.

OUR TEAM:  Each young person will have a Master’s level therapist. Our therapists use NAVIGATE as a treatment model; which focuses on education and discussion for individuals and families. The therapist will coordinate care with other providers you may be working with.

A Young Adult Peer Mentor is someone who has gone through mental health challenges of their own. They can provide individual support, coaching and perspective in meetings or in other life activities. One of their main jobs is to help the young person’s voice to be heard on the team.

A Family Partner is a parent or caregiver who bring their own lived experience of helping their child through a mental health challenge. They can be a listening ear as well as offer practical advice on navigating the mental health system and a cheerleader on how to speak up for your family’s needs; and how to take time to recharge. 

If you are interested in PEACE, please contact Program Director Frank Gomez, LMFT, at fgomez@jri.org.

If you are interested in this program but you do not have DMH eligibility, we can also offer the same model through health insurance or grant funding. Please contact Christin Brown, LICSW at cbrown2@jri.org.

Garden at Children's Friend Salem location


Request More Information

For assistance determining which programs or services will meet your individualized need, please fill out the form below. If you have a question regarding a particular program, please contact the Program Director listed in the “Let’s Connect” box above.

Please note that this form is not HIPAA compliant.  We urge you not to include protected health information.

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JRI/COVID-19 Navigator

Do you have a question about how JRI services, related to COVID-19 or otherwise?

Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.