“We can meaningfully change the trajectory of families’ lives by partnering with communities to make sure there is easy access to the support and resources families need to thrive.”
At the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), we believe that the best way to prevent child abuse is to ensure child well-being. We can meaningfully change the trajectory of families’ lives by partnering with communities to make sure there is easy access to the support and resources families need to thrive. As we recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month, I encourage you to make families aware of the services and supports that are available for families in New York City.
We all know how important high-quality and affordable child care is. While parents are out making ends meet, they should rest assured their child is safe and well cared for. ACS provides vouchers to low-income families to help them pay for child care. And child care vouchers are easier than ever to access for eligible families; Mayor Eric Adams just launched a new online portal called MyCity, where, for the first time, parents can apply for child care assistance through a user-friendly, electronic application. We encourage parents to visit the portal and see if they may be eligible: MyCity.nyc.gov.
ACS also funds multiple Family Enrichment Centers (FECs) across the city, which are warm, home-like centers where families can simply walk-in, connect with neighbors, volunteer their time, and access free resources like food, clothing, and diapers. FECs are designed to strengthen the protective factors—like resiliency and social connection—that set us all up to weather life’s challenging moments and take advantage of life’s greatest opportunities. Each center’s space and offerings are designed with and for community members, so each is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the neighborhood. For more information on how to visit an FEC in your community, click here.
In addition to these efforts, ACS and its community-based providers offer a full range of free, voluntary services and supports, including substance abuse treatment, domestic violence interventions, mental health counseling, homemaking services, housing assistance, and help applying for benefits. We have a dedicated helpline that anyone in New York City can call for more information on which service is best for your family’s unique needs: 212-676-7667. There is also more information on our website: www.nyc.gov/ForFamilies.
We know that these types of services have made a difference in the lives of families across New York City. A 2022 survey of thousands of parents who participated in ACS prevention services found that 94 percent said they were happy with the services they received, and 90 percent would recommend the services to a friend or family member.
In addition, some families with children under the age of 4 have taken part in a program known as Group Attachment Based Intervention (GABI). GABI helps caregivers build strong bonds and promote the healthy development of their little ones. The program offers clinician-facilitated play therapy, parent-only therapy sessions, and child-only play sessions. It begins with warm and friendly floor playtime. Clinicians encourage caregivers to join their child in playtime and to reflect on their interaction; this helps parents better understand their children’s needs.
This is followed by a parent-only therapy session, which allows for caregivers to deepen insights with the clinician. During parent-only therapy, children engage in child-only play sessions, which offer parents a chance to connect with other adults. GABI can also help families by giving them diapers, baby wipes, or other goods when needed. Overall, GABI aims to help families manage life’s challenges, increase their social support network, and improve parent-child relationships.
ACS can also help parents with teens who are in need of extra help. For instance, our Family Assessment Program (FAP) provides services to families with teens who are skipping school, using drugs or alcohol, or having difficulties with their teachers. FAP offers crisis intervention, mediation, family counseling, substance abuse services, and more. For more information about FAP, click here.
If you are a family in need, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of these supports to keep your family healthy and thriving. For more information, click here.
Dr. Jacqueline Martin is the Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Prevention Services at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services.