At the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, several hundred social workers collectively cover hundreds of miles across the New York metropolitan area every week to meet people where they live. Our social workers support families with young children suffering from complex medical conditions; help people of all ages to recover from illness or injury or to live a full life despite chronic health problems; provide outreach for those struggling with mental health crises; and strive to make life easier and more comfortable for individuals and families facing end of life.Search for Social Work Jobs
- VNSNY Community Mental Health Services
- VNSNY Home Care
- VNSNY Hospice
- VNSNY CHOICE
With over two dozen community outreach programs for underserved children and adults struggling with acute or chronic mental illness or substance use disorders, VNSNY Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) plays a vital role in New York City’s mental health safety net. Drawing on 30 years of experience in the field, CMHS offers a wide range of interventions that bring targeted care directly to where it’s needed. Many of these programs are collaborations between VNSNY and state or city agencies, others are partnerships with health and behavioral health agencies.
Tara Noto, MS, LMHC
Director, Program Operations
Community Mental Health Services
“The social workers in Community Mental Health Services are incredible individuals. We are very fortunate to attract people with a special talent for helping others and for being deeply committed to the well-being of those in need of the most care, the most vulnerable, and the most fragile. Our social workers provide needed care for those who are in acute or chronic emotional pain or distress, and they devote attention to the things that are most important to each individual. When a client receives care from VNSNY, they are no longer alone in their struggles. They have an ally (or in many cases a team of allies) who is committed to helping them find ways to cope and heal and connect to others. Or to live safely in their communities, connected to resources and services that are meaningful and effective. To work in Community Mental Health Services, is to know you have the ability and the potential to change or impact a life in a positive way.”
Lori Rodriquez, LCSW
Associate Director of Children’s Services, Community Mental Health Services
Lori Rodriquez is a licensed social worker and Associate Director of Children’s Services. Every day, she works with distressed children and their loved ones in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, many of whom are living in underserved communities.
She believes that by addressing crisis situations where they occur – often in the home – her staff can better understand how patients live and what is causing their mental distress. “Home visits are so important. By working with children and their families in their homes, my staff and I are able to understand their worldview and what factors of home or school life may be causing distress. Our staff comes from a diverse set of backgrounds, and that gives each of them their own experience and understanding about what day-to-day living is like. In a walk-in clinic, you get a piece of what someone else’s life is like, but by doing home visits you can see what real poverty is and that helps you to understand the patient better.”
Marion Spencer, LMSW
Program Manager, Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACT)
Marion is a licensed social worker and Program Manager for the Manhattan Shelter Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team. She leads a team of seven, including a psychiatrist, full- and part-time registered nurses, a substance abuse counselor, a peer specialist, a housing specialist, and a vocational specialist. The team cares for 68 adult patients in four state-run ACT homeless shelters in Manhattan.
“Our biggest challenges are finding acceptable housing for patients and making sure they stay compliant with their treatment plans. Many of our patients are working towards life-changing goals like getting a job. But there are also significant smaller achievements, like when a patient has grown in self-knowledge to where they can reason their way through a crisis. I feel grateful when I can help a patient feel there is still hope for them to improve their health and their life—hope for recovery after a mental break, or being able to see it’s not the end of the world after they’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. That’s my reward.”
Christine Garcia, LMSW
Program Coordinator, Home-Based Crisis Intervention Program Supervisor, 100 Schools Project
Christine is a licensed social worker with VNSNY’s Home-Based Crisis Intervention (HBCI) Program in Brooklyn. Funded by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, HBCI is available at no charge for children between the ages of 5 and 18 with acute mental health issues. Christine and her colleagues provide short-term, intensive treatment for children who demonstrate suicidal behaviors and ideation or severe depression. She works with her families to defuse the crisis and keep children at home when that can be safely done. “Speaking for people who have no voice or have problems like mental illness that are so misunderstood is incredibly fulfilling. As a social worker, I navigate the complex mental health system and protocols of the Department of Education, which reaffirms my mission to ensure that kids with mental health issues don’t fall through the cracks.”
Karen Inestroza, LMSW
Supervisor, FRIENDS Program
Karen is a psychiatric social worker and Supervisor of the FRIENDS Promise Zone in the Bronx. She supervises five staff members – three social workers and two family advocates who comprise the Promise Zone team based on-site in nine public elementary schools in the Bronx. “We are the children’s advocates and their voice, in a way. We make sure mental health care is available to at-risk students. Our main goal is to remove the stigma of mental health so the kids can progress in school and function socially. One of our primary roles is to educate school leadership and staff to recognize the mental health issues these students face—to understand that these are illnesses and the kids are not intentionally disruptive—and to appreciate that they may have different ways of learning. That’s the key to keeping the kids in school and creating an environment conducive to learning. I feel so fortunate to work at VNSNY, which is like a second home to me, and to have the chance to bring social justice to children in need.”
VNSNY Home Care social workers ensure that patients and their caregivers have the emotional support, resources and services they need to cope with and manage their current medical conditions. In addition to partnering with patients and their caregivers, home care social workers are valued members of the professional care team, collaborating with nurses and rehabilitation therapists to achieve the best outcome for each patient.
Jeri L. Goodman, LMSW, CCM
Social Work Manager, Clinical Operations Support
“As a social worker and as a manager, I’ve worked in a wide range of practice settings, but I fell in love with home care at VNSNY. It feels like a privilege to be accepted into people’s homes at a very vulnerable time in their lives when they’re coping with the impact of illness, and to leave knowing you’ve helped make it a little easier. Every work day, every home, every patient, and every family is unique. Home care is fast paced and requires flexibility. It calls on you to draw upon all of your social work skills. It gives you the opportunity to work with a high degree of professional autonomy, out in the community, while also being part of an interdisciplinary team where your social work skills, training and perspective are valued.”
Lizzie Cogan, LMSW
Social Worker, VNSNY Home Care
Lizzie is a licensed social worker who assists home care patients with major illnesses, usually upon release from the hospital, and helps them safely transition back to life at home and in the community.
In a day’s work, Lizzie might find herself providing counseling to a patient struggling with a new cancer diagnosis, connecting a lonely, isolated patient to a senior center and other community supports, helping a family develop a long term care plan for an aging parent, or ensuring that a low-income patient has the resources to meet their basic needs.
“Since our patients tend to experience very serious illnesses, they and their loved ones may face many challenges in coping. Our role allows us to address both the emotional and concrete concerns. In a home visit, sitting face-to-face with a patient, you can really identify and meet a lot of needs. What drives me is a curiosity to understand people’s circumstances, hear their story, and then work out a plan with them to improve their situation. I’m grateful that I have the potential to walk in the patient’s door, and leave with the feeling that I’ve had a real impact on that person’s well-being.”
VNSNY Hospice social workers are part of an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, spiritual care coordinators, bereavement coordinators, and volunteers that help patients and their families manage end of life care. The essence of the social work role is to be a caring and confident psychosocial educator who helps the patient and family member to find his or her own sense of confidence in facing the crises of illness and death. The role of the social worker is to assess, intervene, educate, and help our clients to traverse the often narrow pathway of the end of life experience, and to communicate, by word and action, that we are on their side to provide comfort and expertise in a difficult and emotionally messy situation when a medical cure is no longer possible.
R. Benyamin Cirlin, LCSW
Social Work Intern Program Coordinator
“To be a VNSNY Hospice social worker is to be introduced daily to the incredibly diverse amalgam of religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, race, and culture that is the bedrock of New York City, and to be a witness and participant in the great mystery and challenge of encountering illness and death. Hospice social workers are merchants of hope who explicitly and implicitly proclaim to their clients: “Yes, this is a difficult and painful journey, but we are here to help you find the comfort, strength, and resources to manage this challenging life transition.” People often ask, “Isn’t being a hospice social worker painful and depressing?” And the answer is “Yes, in the process of helping we see much pain, but more often than not, we are witnesses to great reservoirs of love and courage that bring great richness and depth into our own lives.”
Matvei Berkovitch, LMSW
Lead Social Worker, Hospice
Matvei is the Lead Hospice Social Worker in Brooklyn. “I see myself as an educator—educating people about the benefits of hospice care and how much they can really gain from it. Although we call this ‘end of life,’ I always emphasize the ‘life’ part to people. We can bring meaning to a person’s life, along with comfort and acceptance of his or her destiny. What makes me happy is the connection I have with my patients and their families—gaining their trust, being welcome in their home, learning about their lives, seeing their photos, being part of their support system, and helping with their decision-making. I am honored to be able to do this. Yes, I bring hospice, but I also bring a lot of positive energy, experience, and quality of life. And sometimes smiles. I can leave a patient’s home and feel like I’ve accomplished something today.”
Social workers play an essential role for members of VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans. They help plan members with things that can affect their quality of life and to find the resources they need to succeed in their everyday lives. This may include addressing various mental health issues, including administering depression screens, to linking members to mental health services, as needed. VNSNY CHOICE social workers help members and their family caregivers to navigate Medicare and Medicaid and arrange for services like food stamps or housing assistance. They also assist with caregiver strain and support, home environment and family issues, and help members to remain in their homes.
Maria Brincat, LMSW, CCM
Social Work Manager, CHOICE Health Plans
“Social work plays a vital role for managed care health plan members. If a member has an issue with social determinants of health, they are not going to see their primary care provider or take their medication on time. VNSNY CHOICE social workers provide support and link members to life-saving resources, from food stamps, rent assistance, elder abuse services, mental health services in the community—the list is immense. Social workers have a core knowledge of the vast and complex systems of New York, and they link members to services appropriate to the situation.
The goal of social work intervention is measured by a member gaining food stamps, so they can purchase healthy food, by a member being linked to mental health services in the community, to help with symptoms of depression. Many times, the elderly/disabled are pushed off to the side, and social workers allow our members to have a voice and to be heard.”
Clarene Richards, MA, LCSW
Lead Social Worker, CHOICE Health Plans
Clarene is a Lead Social Worker with VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans. “Care for home-bound patients doesn’t end with just making sure they are taking their medications. It’s also keeping them psychologically grounded, monitoring their ability to function successfully and independently in their homes, and coming to the rescue with solutions when they can’t manage for themselves. With our phone-based approach, we build a relationship of trust and a real connection with our members. This, in turn, helps us to identify changes in their situation and risks that may emerge – and use preventive interventions to stop them before they become major issues.”