Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CFI

As mission-driven organizations, both The Child & Family Institute (CFI) and the Weissman Children’s Foundation (WCF) aim to build awareness of and be responsive to the unique mental health needs of those from underserved and underrepresented populations. This is part of a new diversity, equity and inclusion effort, which seeks to elevate all its clients to the same level and quality of mental health and healthcare, regardless of circumstance. In this way, CFI and WCF aim to help breakdown generations-old, nationwide barriers and access to quality mental healthcare for every child, family or young adult in need.


At CFI, we recognize and accept that people from diverse and often marginalized communities—along a large spectrum of client-diversifying characteristics (racial, physical, gender, cultural, socioeconomic, etc.)—will need mental healthcare at times in their lives. In order to provide the most effective treatments possible to all our clients, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances, we aim to incorporate diversity in all aspects of CFI life, from our clinical staff and services to our research and education to our partnerships.

Diversity Includes:

  • Attracting a clientele from all communities, including communities of color and low-income communities, by striving to eliminate barriers to accessing effective and affordable mental healthcare and by creating an environment of comfort and safety.
  • Functioning as a committed, diverse and interdisciplinary community of clinicians, despite not always being a perfect match regarding diversifying characteristics, who—through ongoing training and self-reflection respect—acknowledge and tailor treatment approaches to the unique lived experiences of each client. 
  • Being mindful that clients are represented in the images and messages we project via our internal and external communications & media.


As a mission-driven organization, we aim to build awareness of and be responsive to the unique mental health needs of those from underserved and underrepresented populations. Equity at CFI is a state of being or “mindset” for how we conduct ourselves. While we acknowledge the tension between equitable and equal–that is, the potential disequal distribution of clinical and financial resources toward equitable treatment–we nonetheless seek to elevate all our clients to the same level and quality of mental health and healthcare.

Equity Includes:

  • Shifts in mindset and practice, setting the foundation for providing and sustaining equitable outcomes for all clients. These “equity shifts” require acknowledging current, deep-seated beliefs about various cultural characteristics, including but not limited to race, gender, disability and culture.
  • Understanding that striving to achieve equity will be accomplished in different ways for different people. 
  • We acknowledge–and celebrate–the importance, value and strength of the rich and varied racial, gender and cultural identities of our clients, clinicians, educators, students and partners.
  • We acknowledge certain mental health conditions, issues or behaviors often exist on a continuum or co-exist with other conditions. We strive to “destigmatize” and “depathologize” mental health assessments and treatments.
  • Supporting efforts to help reduce barriers to mental healthcare. 
      • We seek to eliminate personal and institutional biases and barriers, both by considering the language we use and by intentionally challenging our biases (“myth busting”)—which can get in the way of growth and change. We must consider the unique needs of underserved communities—including food and housing insecurity, childcare concerns, comorbidities, etc.—as prerequisites to receiving psychological care. 
      • Other barriers to meeting psychological needs include: stigma, shame and prejudice around mental illness, which can include direct and indirect experiences of discrimination; cultural mistrust and possible mistreatment by the healthcare profession; and feelings of isolation. 
  • Supporting CFI policies, practices and research that seek to better understand and develop greater equity in the access and provision of mental health services to underserved and underrepresented populations. 
  • Acknowledging families needing the most intensive, time-consuming evaluations and treatments may have the least financial means. To help these families, our clinicians need to be aware of the extra workload and find the balance between wanting to help every family and addressing their own financial needs.
  • Driving toward the vision that CFI clinicians and administrators will exemplify excellence and equity, so that all clients can lead productive, fulfilling lives.


To attract a diverse and a largely underserved clientele, CFI aims to create a warm, open and welcoming environment and to provide affordable, timely and effective mental health treatment. Our highly qualified clinicians will follow an ethical code and conduct due diligence in offering well-informed, culturally sensitive therapeutic services for anyone in need. To do this, we will recognize and help minimize potential barriers to treatment, in part, by addressing the client’s experience of discrimination, bullying, labeling and social dynamics (such as client’s ability to initiate and keep friendships as compared to their peers).

For clients, inclusion means:

  • Receiving a continuous level of quality treatment regardless of any and all individuating characteristics or specific need for support, or regardless of prior treatment by the medical or psychological establishment. This requires overt discussion of previous experiences of mistreatment in such settings and how it may impact current treatment.
  • Receiving high-quality, evidence-based treatments (EBTs) and other services that are customized and modified as relevant to client identity, background and socioeconomic status, regardless of whether treated by a senior psychotherapist or a graduate student.
      • Quality is the same, though evidentiary treatment is customized to the individual’s specific needs. 
      • Accommodations in a school setting, for example, mean educating all students in the same classroom regardless of diagnosis, socioeconomic status or disability. (A child diagnosed with ADHD has the right to get up and walk around.)

For clinicians and administrators, inclusion means:

  • Attracting and retaining diverse, mission-driven CFI clinicians and administrators. CFI intends to build awareness of the many opportunities to accomplish this within the richly diversified Greater New York area. 
  • Committing to cultural competency at various stages of CFI affiliation, through hiring, onboarding, training, professional development, assessment and feedback, with a zero-tolerance policy for insensitivity or mistreatment. 
  • CFI will review human resources and DEI policies and outline them in a CFI staff manual and in contract language. 
  • Diversity training can include continuing education, annual trainings, internal conversations, guest lectures, etc.
  • Providing indiscriminate accessibility and equitable EBT options for all reasons and for all people seeking and/or in need of general or specialized psychological support. 
  • Recognizing EBT research conducted with mostly white (and frequently college-age) participants may not rely on generalizable data and thus fall short for certain populations. 
  • Conducting original research with diversified samplings to develop EBTs for different populations–accounting for DEI factors–to the best of our ability. CFI aims to make better-informed treatment decisions, which research and professional judgement tell us work better for diverse and underserved communities. 
  • Allocating fiscal and personnel resources to help reduce barriers to care for underserved and underrepresented populations, such as:
      • Level of care based on need, not finances
      • Low-fee and sliding-scale based services
      • Intake process and paperwork, screening client-clinician preferences
      • Services and programs through accessible platforms (e.g., telehealth)
      • Community partnerships with mission-compatible organizations, organizing such joint activities as talks, webinars, trainings, outreach, fundraisers