Legal and Mental Health Approaches to Working with Immigrant Children and Families

The New York Foundling’s Strong Families and Communities Training Center in collaboration with Jodi Ziesmer, Director of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)’s Immigrant Protection Unit, and Lisa Pineda, Mental Health Clinical Director of Terra Firma at Montefiore Health Systems, would like to invite you to explore the legal and mental health needs of the immigrant population with in NYC. For questions regarding this workshop please email [email protected]

Title: Legal and Mental Health Approaches to Working with Immigrant Children and Families

Date and Time:   Wednesday, March 9th, 2022 – 10am-12pm.

Location: Virtual via Zoom (link to be provided after registration)

Training Description:   This is a 2 -hour workshop where attendees will:

  • Gain a basic understanding of lawful and unlawful immigration into the U.S. and demographics of recently arrived immigrants
  • Learn about the psychosocial, legal, and financial challenges during the immigration process –and explore assessment methods to identify and address psychosocial needs, including effective mental health interventions for this population
  • Understanding the role teachers, youth advocates, and mental health clinicians can play as advocates in the immigration process
  • Continue to explore the mental health challenges and needs present in immigrant, particularly recently arrived, children and families
  • Learn how and why to identify unaccompanied immigrant children (UIC) and asylum-seeking families

Audience: This interactive workshop is geared towards advocates, social workers, mental health professionals, case managers, coordinators and social services providers in New York City.  *Please note that this training is only available for professionals in New York City.

Professionals with the following licensed will be eligible to receive 2 free continuing education credit: LMHC, LMSW, LCSW, PSYD and PHD.  If you are seeking to obtain CEU’s please provide license number on the registration form.

Register: Register here


Lisa Pineda, LCSW-R, is a senior-level psychotherapist and the Mental Health Clinical Director of Terra Firma at Montefiore Health Systems, a nationally recognized medical-legal-mental health partnership that provides co-located medical, mental health, legal, and enrichment services to unaccompanied immigrant children and asylum-seeking families. Lisa specializes in child and adolescent mental health, particularly traumatic stress resulting from interpersonal trauma. Previously working in a Child Advocacy Center model, she also has expertise in dealing within the child welfare system. Lisa is trained and provides clinical supervision in several trauma-focused evidence-based therapeutic interventions, including TF-CBT, AF-CBT, SPARCS, CPP, and PSB-CBT. Lisa’s present work with immigrant population, including unaccompanied children, is the culmination of over 10 years of experience contributing to the research and refining of therapeutic interventions with this population. Lisa is the co-author of “Working with parents and children separated at the border: Examining the impact of the Zero Tolerance policy and beyond,” Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma (2019). Lisa earned her MSW from Adelphi University, where she conducted research with Hispanic immigrant youth and their families, addressing mental health outcomes.


Jodi Ziesemer is the Director of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)’s Immigrant Protection Unit. Jodi leads a large team of innovative and passionate immigration advocates. In addition to overseeing staff, she works with senior management to establish and implement a strategic vision for the unit, undertakes the management and reporting on grants and deliverables, and develops effective programs to meet client needs. Prior to joining NYLAG, Jodi was a supervision attorney at Catholic Charities in their Unaccompanied Minors Program. In that position, Jodi coordinated representation of recently arrived unaccompanied immigrant children and oversaw a team of attorneys who provide services to immigrant youth detained with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In addition, she has worked for the past ten years representing a wide variety of immigrants in front of Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Court) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Prior to graduating summa cum laude from New York Law School, Jodi worked as a Board of Immigration Appeals representative for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago and as a paralegal at Fitzgerald and Company, LLC in Boston. During her fifteen years in immigration law, Jodi has worked on a range of projects including anti-human trafficking initiatives, naturalization drives, pro bono asylum clinics, innovative representation projects for unaccompanied minors and victims of violent crime. Jodi holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Grinnell College and a Master’s in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a J.D. from New York Law School. Jodi served an adjunct professor at St. John’s University and she co-authored an article for the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal entitled, “The Right to Have Rights: Loss of Citizenship, Asylum, and Constitutional Principles.” (Vol 30, No 3, Spring 2016).


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