Resources for Families

Below is a list of resources that are intended to provide information for parents/caregivers and children. The research team at the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Lab does not endorse them or their providers. Therefore, the lab, its members, and the Department of Psychology at Columbia University do not accept liability for the accuracy of the resources provided. It is the parent/caregiver’s responsibility to thoroughly assess and investigate the information listed below before acting upon it. The links below are not intended to provide a thorough representation of available resources, and are neither guaranteed to be exhaustive nor complete. 

If you would like to see resources for you and your family in regards to COVID-19, click here!

Reading Materials

Child Mind Institute - Mental Health Topics 

The Child Mind Institute aims to empower you with the resources you need to make good decisions for your child. This page provides a detailed A to Z topics list containing informative articles and resources about child mental health, learning challenges, and how to get good care. Whether you're investigating your concerns or researching a particular diagnosis, CMI offers the most current thinking from experts and the experience of families who've been through it.

Sesame Street in Communities

Sesame Street in Communities is a resource that aims to help parents and caregivers support their children and families in a variety of situations and contexts. This website provides fun multi-media tools that focus on children from birth to age six and include information, activities, printables, and personal stories/advice on topics such as autism, parental addiction, school-readiness, community violence, divorce, learning through play, exploring emotions, handling tantrums, traumatic events, and so on. These tools have been researched and tested with families and are designed to guide parents and caregivers in caring for their children's physical, emotional, and cognitive development. This resource is also available in Spanish.

CDC Children's Mental Health Home Page

CDC Children's Mental Health page offers a wide range of information about mental health in childhood, developmental and emotional milestones, and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when problems arise. Information includes data and statistics, symptoms and treatment for childhood mental disorders, children's mental health research, and improving access to care. This resource is also available in Spanish.

NIH Children and Mental Health Information

The National Institute of Mental Health provides a list of downloadable brochures, fact sheets, and useful Q+A sections related to child mental health. This page offers great insight to those searching for information about when to seek help, first steps for parents, treatment options, choosing a mental health professional, and much more.

AACAP: Talking to Kids About Mental Illnesses

Children are naturally curious and have questions about mental illness. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry offers a useful guide for parents who want to start these conversations with their children about mental health. Information is organized by the age of child.


Talking Mental Health

"Talking Mental Health" is an animation geared towards children to help begin conversations about mental health. It has been created by a team of animators, children, teachers and clinicians, and is being taught to year 5 and 6 children around the UK.

We all Have Mental Health

"We All Have Mental Health" is an animation for children aged 11-14 to understand the importance of mental health and how to look after it. An accompanying teacher toolkit is free and downloadable as well.

InBrief: Early Childhood Mental Health

This youtube video explains how improving children's early life experiences and relationships can help development and improve mental health. It contains questions and answers on the importance of caring for and detecting signs of mental health problems in early childhood.

Networks & Support Groups

NAMI - Support for Family Members/Caregivers

The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers resources and support for family members, friends, or caregivers of individuals suffering from mental illness. Whether you're providing a lot of assistance or very little, the information here can help you better understand issues you might face.

List of Local Organizations With Mental Health Expertise

This page provides a list of local organizations with mental health expertise that organize community events, offer services, support, or information about mental health issues. Resources are restricted to one region; most, if not all, are accessible online.

List of Resources to Support Adolescent Mental Health

This page provides a list of support groups, centers, hotlines, and online programs that offer support for adolescents who struggle with mental health, family members, or carers of those adolescents. Most, if not all, resources on the list are not restricted to a specific region.

Reading Materials

National Institute of Mental Health -- Health Topics

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website offers fundamental information on mental health disorders, associated mental health topics, and cutting edge research. The NIMH is the main government agency devoted to research on mental health, and includes information for issues affecting women, men, children, and older adults.

Mental Health America -- Parenting

The Mental Health America (MHA) Parenting page contains helpful, reader-friendly information on how parents' mental health affects their children. The page also discusses other environmental factors that may prevent or remove risk to children's wellbeing, tips on talking to kids about parents' mental health and how kids may react, and briefly discusses possible custody issues with mental health. The MHA Parenting page is a great place to begin exploring parenting with a mental illness.

Children Of Parents With Mental Illness -- For Parents

Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) has great, user-friendly information on coping with a parents' mental illness. The site has both sections for parents dealing with their own mental illness, and a kid-oriented section with easy to digest information about their parents' mental health. The site addresses scenarios parents and children might encounter, for example, at school, that are affected by parents' mental health, and offers specific steps for dealing with these situations.

National Health Service UK -- Mental Health and Pregnancy

This page from the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) offers a great overview of mental health issues that may arise before, during, and after pregnancy. It contains information both for people already dealing with mental illness before being pregnant, and people who may develop a mental illness during or following pregnancy. It offers basic information on symptoms, treatment, and self-care steps to take throughout pregnancy, to protect mothers' and children's wellbeing.

Networks & Support Groups

Mental Health America -- Finding Help

This page from Mental Health America (MHA) is a great starting place for people beginning to seek mental health support, including how to access in-person and online support groups. It offers a list of specialized support groups, depending on area of concern.

National Alliance on Mental Health NYC

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website offers digitial mental health resources for NYC area residents seeking to maintain their wellbeing during COVID-19. Resources include a helpline, digital classes and support groups, and mental health guides from government agencies.

Columbia Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Support Groups NYC

This list of NYC metro area support groups is offered by Columbia University's Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. It includes support groups that are free, digital, and/or specialized by particular concern.

Reading Materials

Talking About Adoption

"It can be difficult for parents to find the words to talk about adoption with their children and others. Adoptees may not know how to respond to questions from classmates or strangers. Find resources in this section to help families and adopted people talk about adoption."

Finding and Working With Adoption-Competent Therapists

"After an adoption is finalized, therapy can be a useful support to help adoptive families with challenges that may arise at different phases of life. This fact sheet provides suggestions for finding an adoption-competent therapist and offers information about the types of therapy that can help adopted children and their families. Foster parents considering adoption could face similar issues and therefore also may find definitions and descriptions in this fact sheet useful."

Transracial and Transcultural Families

This resource delineates specific topics that are pertinent in transracial adoptions. It provides reading material for each of those topics and includes book recommendations on the topic.

Child Welfare & Foster/Adoption Processes in NYC

This resource is the homepage of the NYC guide for adoption and foster care. In this page, one can learn about the process of becoming a foster or adoptive parent, review FAQ's, read family stories, find educational resources, and learn about children currently in the foster care system.

Networks & Support Groups

Child Welfare Adoption Homepage

"Adoptive families may access post-adoption services and supports in their State or jurisdiction. Adoptive parents who need services should first check with their adoption placement agency to see what services are available. However, the value of talking with other adoptive parents who have had similar experiences cannot be overstated. In this section, find information and examples of post-adoption services, including a searchable, nationwide directory to find support groups and services close to home. Resources also include State and local examples."

Post Adoption Support Services

This resource explains the lifelong difficulties that are experienced during and after adoption. It also provides a search engine to access resources for services, as well as further reading materials.

The Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.)

C.A.S.E. offers mental health services and educational resources for all members of the adoption and foster community.

Reading Materials

How to Find a Telehealth Provider for Your Child

The Child Mind Institute provides strategies for parents seeking remote mental health treatment for their children.

Does your insurance cover mental health services?

The American Psychological Association details what you need to know about insurance coverage for mental health services.

How to Choose a Psychologist

The American Psychological Association explains how to choose a psychologist that best fits your needs.

Search Tools

Psychology Today - Find a Therapist

Browse an extensive directory of therapists, psychologists, counselors and psychiatrists near you. Use the filtering options to narrow your search based on your insurance carrier, preferred location, problems/diagnoses, etc.

Free or Low-cost Mental Health Resources in NYC

The Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Human Rights has compiled a list of free or low-cost mental health resources in the New York City area.

The DAN Lab conducts certain studies that include kid-friendly functional MRI protocols. We do not use sedation for our MRIs. Please see below for more information on MRIs.

Reading Materials

MRI Of The Brain

This is a resource with a short animation and Q&A section for children about what to expect before and during an MRI scan.

How an MRI Helps us Learn about the Brain

An article about how an MRI is used for science. Pictures and diagrams are included to make this comprehensive for children and adults alike. Please note that some technical language is used, and this article is for enrichment purposes.


How does an MRI machine work?

A video clearly explaining what an MRI machine is, and how exactly it allows us to obtain useful information about the body.

MRI Safety Information for Parents

Dr. Rhonda McDowell, a board-certified BayCare radiologist, discusses MRI safety, MRI side effects and risks.

Reading Materials

NYC DOE Guide to Special Education Services

A PDF guide to navigating special education services within the New York City Department of Education. It includes sections on evaluations, intiating an IEP, IEP services, preparing for graduation, and more.

CDC Early Childhood Milestones

From birth to 5 years, children should reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act and move. This page contains resources to help parents track their child’s development and act early if they have a concern. The milestone tracker is also available as an app linked from this page.

Special Education Resources for Parents

Special education resources for parents, including links to state and federal special education laws, as well as region-specific resources for NYC. These range from advocacy and support organizations to online learning resources.

A Guide to the Individualized Education Program

The United States Department of Education's guide to the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The guide covers special education law, the IEP team, and writing, implementing, and revising the IEP. It is designed to help teachers, parents and anyone involved in the education of a child with a disability develop and carry out an IEP.


Since 2014, Understood has served millions of families of kids who learn and think differently. This page provides resources to support families with school and learning. Topics include partnering with your child's school, evaluations, special services, your child's rights, choosing and starting school, learning at home, tutors, and assistive technology.


Through Your Child's Eyes

This page from Understood aims to give parents a sense of what their child is experiencing through simulations and videos. The Through Your Child's Eyes Tool allows viewers to select from three age groups and issues with reading, writing, math, attention, and organization.

Networks & Support Groups


INCLUDEnyc provides support to young people (under age 26) with disabilities and their families. Resources include a help line, workshops, parent and student center, and events. The site also provides information on contacting the CSE and requesting evaluation, including a template letter.

Advocates for Children of New York

Advocates for Children of New York supports students who are especially vulnerable to discrimination, including students with disabilities and those in foster care or temporary housing.The site includes a hotline to connect families with advocates. The resource library includes a guide on students with disabilities and special education.

Find Your Parent Center

Each state has at least one parent center that supports young people with disabilities and their families. This is a listing of Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) by state.

National Institution for Learning Development (NILD)

Locate certified educational therapists using this site, in the US and internationally.

Significance of Early Brain Development: Never Stop Learning Bites (NSL)

Click here to watch a short video where Dr. Tottenham talks about early life brain development and the role played by stress and one's primary caregiver.

Emotional Brain Development and the Importance of Early Experiences: Dana Foundation Lecture

Click here to watch Dr. Tottenham exploring human brain development and its relationship to emotional behavior, stress, and well-being.

The Science of Childhood Trauma and Family Separation: A Discussion of Short- and Long-Term Effects

Click here to watch a webinar hosted by the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) on the research evidence behind experiences of separation from caregivers and the impact on children's well-being. Dr. Tottenham is on the panel.

Interview with Dr. Tottenham: Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York (AFFCNY)

Click here to watch Dr. Tottenham talking about how her work relates to children who are in the foster care system and those who are adopted.

The Emotional Brain and the Role of Early Experiences: Talks at Google

Click here to watch Dr. Tottenham talking about how early social experiences may influence development through learning and modification of developmental pathways.