Our Team

National Intern Day: Q&A with Sandra Ka, MSW

National Intern Day is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the instrumental role interns play in keeping our society running and progressing. Here at The Child Center of NY, interns are crucial to advancing our mission to strengthen families.   

 Anderson Sungmin Yoon, Vice President, Integrated and Value-Based Care, oversees our internship program.Our internship program now resides within the Training Institute in our newest division, Research, Development, Innovation, and Training. We are proud to have created relationships and affiliations with more than 30 universities and graduate schools, including Columbia University, NYU, Nyack College, Hunter College, York College, Stony Brook University, Hofstra University, and others. The program places nearly 40 interns annually, matching them with positions that align with their goals and training them to learn and grow as the future generation of professionals. 

As The Child Center’s internship program coordinator and vice president of research, training, and development, Anderson Sungmin Yoon, DSW, LCSW-R, CASAC, RPT-S, ACT notes that his goals for the internship program are twofold. “I am dedicated to providing our interns with experiential learning opportunities that they can integrate with their classroom knowledge and prepare them for their professional roles,” he says. “At the same time, they are playing a vital role in serving our communities.”  

Importantly, the internship program has served as a pipeline to recruiting some of the best and brightest diverse clinicians in New York. The Child Center prioritizes hiring people who are from the communities we serve and understand the challenges our clients face. This often means we provide interns with professional roles after they graduate. “My goal is to recruit, train, and hire interns to serve our communities with clinical care reflective of ethnicity, culture, and identity,” Dr. Yoon says. 

One intern who epitomizes this approach and its success is Sandra Ka, MSW, who served as an intern in our 0-5 Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) program and now works as a full-time social worker for The Child Center’s new Functional Family Therapy program.  

“This is what we aim for,” Dr. Yoon says. “We train interns to become future professionals and provide opportunities for them to serve their own communities.” 

In honor of National Intern Day, we asked Ms. Ka to share with us her reflections on her internship program experience.  

The Child Center of NY: How did you come to be an intern at The Child Center of NY? 

Sandra Ka, MSW: Dr Yoon was an assistant professor at Nyack College, where I was pursuing my Master of Social Work degree. The department that coordinates the college’s intern program recommended that I interview with The Child Center. I met with Dr. Yoon, and he told me about the opportunities that would be available—to actually work with clients, get hands-on experience, and make a difference in children’s and families’ lives. It’s exactly what I wanted to do.   

What was your experience like? 

The internship gave me important, relevant experience, and I got to make a real difference. At ECMH, I worked with children 0-5, their parents, and with adult clients through IPT [interpersonal psychotherapy], mostly with women who recently had a baby. I provided therapy, under the supervision of Clinical Services Director Seline Bearman, LCSW-R, who was a great role model. I also attended several trainings that advanced my professional growth. For example, one was a primer on mental health services specifically for children 0-5. This was novel to me. I didn’t know there was this initiative for clients so young. I also took an ITP training that focused on conflict, grief, and transitions. 

You mentioned that your supervisor, Seline Bearman, LCSW-R, was a significant part of your internship experience. How was she a mentor you?      

Seline helped me immensely. On the practical side, she is excellent with time management. I learned so much through her commitment to keeping our appointments, even though she was very busy overseeing the department and her own caseload. She managed her time efficiently so she was always available to me, and knowing that she was always available was really helpful. She also had a clinical expertise that would help with the cases I was working on, as did Dr. Yoon.  

Why is the work of The Child Center important to you?           

Children have very little agency. They’re not able to make big decisions for themselves. It can be hard being a child. Any support we can offer is really important because eventually those kids will grow up and shape the direction of who we are as a community and a society.         

Several clients mentioned that this was first experience in therapy. They had so much pent-up “story.” No one in their day-to-day life provided that support we all need, just uniquely for them, no one to listen to their experiences, their hardships … just really be heard. That was really significant. It encouraged me in this work that in somebody’s life, I was starting point of their support, and then we help them build support in their regular life. I feel honored that this is going to be their first memory of the experience. The most meaningful part is seeing their progress in a short time.  

Also, I grew up in Queens, in Woodside. I definitely feel like I understand a lot of the experiences our clients go through and feel a sense of kismet, being back in the neighborhood where I spent most of my childhood. 

What are some of the challenges you helped clients handle and supported them through? 

For the 0-5 initiative, some of it was behavioral challenges. I worked with families in homes experiencing domestic violence, so the children would sometimes exhibit aggressive behaviors, and we provided services to the whole family. Some children were in a foster situation, and I helped them navigate that transition. I also worked with women who recently had a baby, with their partner or with the client alone, depending on their situation. Just having that support, as motherhood really changes your life, for that new role, was important.  

You now work full-time as a social worker for the new FFT program at our Woodside Family Wellness Center. Congratulations! Tell us about your new role. 

Thank you. I am still learning and just started last week! This program serves teens. The way the role was described to me is that the teen is the identified client, but the family is integral to therapy, and their involvement is expected and central. That’s what drew me. As I said before, young people don’t have a lot of agency. Real change happens when we involve the adults in their lives. It’s important that those adults also get support with their mental health, and they all can move forward as a unit in a happier, healthier way. That was the principle behind the 0-5 initiative, too, and The Child Center in general. 

I really appreciate The Child Center as an organization—that they really value supporting and building the community and working directly with people where they’re at to improve their lives. I’m honored to be a part of that. 

Child Center VP Publishes Book on Korean American Mental Health

Understanding Korean Americans' Mental Health

Understanding Korean Americans' Mental HealthAnderson Sungmin Yoon, DSW, LCSW-R, CASAC, RPT-S, ACT, The Child Center of NY’s Vice President of Integrated and Value-Based Care, is a co-editor and contributor of a newly published book, Understanding Korean Americans’ Mental Health: A Guide to Culturally Competent Practices, Program Developments, and Policies, that is being hailed as much-needed, timely, and comprehensive. Continue reading

Statement by The Child Center of NY on the Passing of Ocean Bay Cornerstone Community Center Director Deborah Hoyle, Ph.D.

We have suffered a tremendous loss in the passing of Deborah Hoyle, Ph.D., Director of our Ocean Bay Cornerstone Community Center in the Rockaways. Deborah Hoyle held the heart of the community in everything she did for and with The Child Center. Her consistent and caring commitment to the staff and the children of the Rockaways reflected the Child Center mission to see the cycles of access and equity realized in every program and every child we were fortunate enough to serve. She had a beautiful habit of saying “thank you” to the people we served — thanking them for coming and providing us the opportunity to serve them. That is how she saw things.

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Social Work Month 2021: Social Workers Are Always Essential

Chrissie Chua, SBMH

By Traci Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer

Chrissie Chua, Long Island City school-based mental health

Lead Clinical Coordinator Chrissie Chua conducts tele-therapy sessions with her clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Governor’s office deemed The Child Center staff essential. That is in no small part because of our social workers and other service providers and support staff. They are essential to their clients, and to our community at large, and I can think of no better theme for Social Work Month 2021 than this year’s theme: Social Workers Are Essential. Continue reading

Thank You for Your Service, Deep!

Deep Ghosh

Tribute to the longstanding service of Deepmalya Ghosh

Twenty-two years ago, when The Child Center of NY was still called the Queens Child Guidance Center (QCGC) and focused solely on mental health counseling, then-QCGC Clinical Social Worker Deep Ghosh presented at a conference on childhood trauma. Someone there mentioned Beacon centers.

At the time, “I didn’t know what they were talking about,” Ghosh recalls. “But I learned Beacons are all-purpose centers open to the community for recreation, arts, afterschool — all different things — for all ages. And I thought, I hope we get one.” Continue reading

“Hello, My Love”

Gabriella Hernandez

Tributes in Memory of Gabriella Hernandez, Family Worker at EarlyLearn Corona

By Lillian Rodriguez-Magliaro, Senior Program Director, EarlyLearn Corona

Gabriella Hernandez, EarlyLearn Corona

Gabriella Hernandez

On April 13, 2020, Gabriella Hernandez passed away, as a result of complications from COVID-19. I had known Gabriella for about seven years, and for the past two years she served as a family worker at the EarlyLearn Corona program, where I was her supervisor. Upon meeting her all those years ago, I immediately noticed Gabriella was an exceptional and loving human being. I knew she would make a great addition to our EarlyLearn team. I admired and respected her for her commitment to clients, her friends, and family. Continue reading

In memoriam: Jermaine Miller, a.k.a., Coach Jermaine

A beloved coach is deeply missed by the Child Center community.

Coach Jermaine Miller at Parsons Beacon

Coach Jermaine, center, reflecting the team spirit he was known for.

The terrible news came in mid-March. The COVID-19 pandemic had hit home, taking the life of Jermaine Miller, better known as Coach Jermaine to participants at our Beacon Program at Catherine and Count Basie M.S. 72.

While Coach Jermaine was a natural leader and teacher on the basketball court, his real gift was inspiring youth to live up to their potential not just as athletes, but also in character. Continue reading

Tribute to Jeremy Beddoe

Mourning the loss and celebrating the legacy of our former staff member

Jeremy Beddoe, former staff member of The Child Center of NYThe COVID-19 pandemic has touched us personally and painfully. Clients’ lives have been devastated. And we tragically have lost three staff members to the virus — beautiful, giving, and selfless individuals who dedicated their lives to service.

In April, we lost a very special young man, Jeremy Beddoe, to COVID. Continue reading

In Honor of Social Work Month: The Team That Helps Troubled Teens and Families Change Course

HALE III staff

A Q&A with Our HALE III Team

HALE III staff

The HALE III team is a close-knit group. Here they are at a baby shower for two of their team members.

Editor’s Note: This Q&A provides a snapshot of the important role our social workers and other therapists play in the lives of some of NYC’s most under-served children and families. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, these dedicated professionals now are conducting tele-visits instead of in-person visits — and they have done it without missing a beat. Stay tuned for stories of how various members of The Child Center’s dedicated staff are going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting all of us, but has unique implications for our clients.


The Child Center of NY’s HALE (Holding Adolescents in Loving Environments) III program uses evidence-based family interventions to reduce risks of abuse and foster care placement. Most families in the program have sought our services voluntarily. Some are referred to us by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. Regardless of how families come to us, our HALE III team — made up of therapists Elsa Barkhordarian, LMSW; Webb Casimir, MSW candidate; Therese Despeine, MA MFT; Vanessa Heller, LCSW, MPH; Domonique Wilson, MSW; Tatiana Wilson, MHC; Program Secretary Lissette Camilleri; and Program Director Elizabeth Traverso, LCSW-R — understands that the vast majority of parents want to do well by their children and will do so when given the right skills, counseling, and support. The team works to equip families with these tools. Here’s how they do it.
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