Janine Fitzmaurice

Coordinator of Children with Special Needs Services

Ages birth through 5 years old

(845) 486-3518


Dana Hopkins

Coordinator of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services

Ages 5 years through adulthood

(845) 486-2766


Deborah Disanza

Coordinator of Children’s Services and Children’s POA Coordinator

(845) 486-2768


Toni-Marie Ciarfella. Ph.D.

Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs

(845) 486-3434


If this is an emergency and you need immediate assistance please contact 911

Crisis Counseling, Support, Information & Referrals

Dutchess County HELPLINE 

Toll free: (877) 485-9700

Stabilization Center

(845) 485-9700

NY State Central Register for Child Abuse 


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Need Help?

Your Community Can Too

Watch our video to learn more about ThinkDIFFERENTLY’s vision

Throughout New York State, dozens of cities like Albany and Buffalo, along with many towns and villages have adopted “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” resolutions, pledging to make their communities more inclusive for individuals of every ability. If your community would like to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” , a printable resolution is available here (pdf)



Some of the proactive steps Dutchess County has taken embrace residents of all abilities include:

  • Funding, through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, several projects featuring accessible infrastructure – beyond traditional ramps, curb cuts and the like – which increased residents’ access to facilities and resources throughout the county, including the Julie’s Jungle adaptive playground and an adaptive baseball field for the Little League Challenger Division in the Town of Wappinger; 
  • Partnering with a local movie theater to offer several free Saturday morning movies to families with children with special needs, lowering the volume and raising the lights inside the theater to accommodate children with sensory issues;
  • Educating law enforcement officers, corrections officers, 911 dispatchers and first responders in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and Mental Health First Aid, which enables them to effectively interact with individuals in crisis, including those with special needs;
  • Hosting several free picnics for children with special needs and their families, bringing together these families with local agencies and organizations that serve residents with special needs;
  • Partnering with the local Anderson Center for Autism to provide “Autism Supportive Environment” training, which teaches local businesses and community groups how to communicate better with and provide a more welcoming environment for residents with autism;
  • Appointing Toni-Marie Ciarfella,Ph.D.as Dutchess County’s Deputy Commissioner of Special Needs, the first such position of its kind in the state, to help residents with special needs navigate the network of services providers and government agencies to find the assistance that best serves them. Dr. Ciarfella can be reached at (845) 486-3434 or tciarfella@dutchessny.gov;
  • Hosting the 2019 and 2020 New York Special Olympics Summer Games.
  • We hosted the 2016 Special Olympics New York State Winter Games and the 2017 State Winter Games;
  • Hosting the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY Dash,” a 1-mile walk/run each year through the City of Poughkeepsie for residents with special needs.

In Dutchess County, we’re fortunate so many businesses have chosen to “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” and sponsor events for residents of all abilities. If you’d like more information about becoming a “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” sponsor, contact Toni-Marie Ciarfella, Ph.D. at tciarfella@dutchessny.gov or (845) 486-3434.