ACS Family Center Coming to Ozone Park

ACS Family Center Coming to Ozone Park

File Photo

ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser

By Forum Staff

City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner Jess Dannhauser on Tuesday announced the eight awards selected for the second phase of the City’s “Family Enrichment Center” (FEC) expansion plan, which includes an FEC set for Ozone Park that will also serve Woodhaven, South Ozone Park, and Howard Beach.

Launched in 2017, FECs are home-like walk-in centers that are co-designed with community members. At the centers, families and children can connect with neighbors, volunteer their time, and access resources and supports they feel they need to thrive. ACS is currently undergoing an expansion of the FECs from three existing sites to thirty sites over the next two years. The new centers will be located in the neighborhoods identified by the city’s Taskforce on Racal Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) based on their equity burdens and the impact of COVID-19. Plans for the first phase of the expansion, which includes nine additional sites, were announced last year; those sites will be opening soon and have already begun engaging their respective communities.

On Tuesday, ACS announced the eight awards selected to run the second phase of the FEC expansion—including three set for Queens:

  • Martin De Porres in Ozone Park/Woodhaven/South Ozone Park/Howard Beach
  • Community Mediation Services, Inc. in Elmhurst/Corona
  • Queens Community House, Inc. in Jackson Heights

According to ACS, 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 groups  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.

FECs also 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. A 2020 evaluation of the FECs showed that the first three Centers are having a positive impact on families. FEC members reported that the FECs were enhancing their social supports (from family, friends and neighbors), family functioning, emotional connection with their children, and outlook on life. Additionally, those surveyed reported significant increases in their access to advice and resources in addressing several life challenges, including parenting, financial issues, relationships, food and nutrition issues, and stress management. The report also said that FECs were having a positive effect on members’ access to concrete supports, which can help families better cope with stress, particularly in times of crisis.

The three existing FECs are: The C.R.I.B. in East New York; Circle of Dreams in Highbridge and; O.U.R. Place in Hunts Point/Longwood. The first phase of the expansion includes sites in Jamaica/Hollis/Queens Village, Rockaway, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Mott Haven, Soundview/Parkchester, Central Harlem, East Harlem & St. George/Stapleton. These centers will be opening soon and like all FECs, are free and don’t involve record keeping or case management.


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