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Forestdale in Forest Hills is among the first nine awards selected to run FEC expansion sites.
By Forum Staff
The City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) on Tuesday announced the nine awards selected for the first phase of New York City’s “Family Enrichment Center” (FEC) expansion plan. Launched in 2017, FECs are home-like walk-in centers that are co-designed with local families and community members. Families and children can connect with neighbors, volunteer their time, and access resources and supports they feel they need to thrive at the centers. Last year, ACS announced that it would be expanding the FECs from three sites to thirty sites over the next three years. The new centers will be located in the hard-hit neighborhoods identified by the city’s Taskforce on Racal Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) based on their equity burdens and the impact of COVID-19. Since then, ACS has been seeking local community-based providers, with deep ties to their communities, to run the new sites.
On Tuesday, ACS announced that the first nine awards selected to run these expansion sites include:
- The Reggio Emilia Montessori Center in Mott Haven/Melrose
- Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice in Soundview/Parkchester
- Little Flower Children’s and Family Services in Bedford Stuyvesant
- Riseboro Community Partnership in Brownsville
- Living Redemption Community Development Corporation in Central Harem
- Union Settlement Association in East Harlem
- Forestdale in Jamaica/Hollis/Queens Village
- Ocean Bay Community Development in Rockaway/Broad Channel
- Fund for the City of New York with the Staten Island Justice Center in George/Stapleton
According to ACS officials, FECs are built on trust, positive relationships and making real, the dreams held by community members for their future. They are welcoming, safe, and accessible home-like environments, open to all, where neighbors can connect, contribute and access the information they feel they need. ACS entrusts provider agency staff with co-designing experiences with the community, that help deepen child and family well-being and parental resiliency, build new connections and develop lifelong bonds. Alongside FEC staff, community members may join advisory boards and help to build inclusive FEC experiences that are as unique as the communities in which FECs operate. Members may include individuals whose experiences with community resources or public systems, make them well positioned to support their neighbors.
ACS officials also said the agency is committed to ensuring that community members are equal partners in the design and implementation of FEC offerings. Examples of past and current FEC offerings include: movie nights (for families to meet in a safe space and allow children to make new friends); a therapist-led Healing Through the Arts offering for families recovering from community violence; cultural activities; and Café con Amiga (Coffee with Friends) facilitated by Spanish speaking parent leaders to provide support to parents and caregivers. In particular, the FECs proved crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing critical supports to families in need, including food, clothing, and technology, as well as social supports to parents and caregivers.
“Family Enrichment Centers are an incredible resource and I am thrilled to see them expand. FECs foster direct parent involvement, community relationships, and grass roots connections while offering a safe and supportive environment. I’ve heard directly from parents and children who have had their lives positively impacted thanks to FECs and I believe this is a model we should continue to expand,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), chairman of the Children and Families Committee.