Child and Family Well-Being
The Administration for Children's Services (ACS) provides access to quality resources and opportunities that enhance families' capacity to thrive. We are focused on providing "primary" prevention services, which are aimed at getting families the support they need, completely independent of the traditional child welfare system, and with the goal of avoiding any involvement with that system.
Our work includes offering resources that support parents in keeping their infants and children safe, quality child care services, public education campaigns, promoting equity strategies, and place-based approaches rooted in community organizing and coalition building. Current programs and initiatives include the following:
- Child Care Operations: provides access to child care subsidies for eligible, low-income families so they can secure child care from a provider in their community. The resources the Child Care Operations team provides include:
- Child Care Call Center: provides customer service to families and providers related to the subsidized child care application process.
- Payment Inquiry Unit (PIU) researches and investigates provider payment enrollment.
- Resource Areas: determines eligibility for low-income families seeking child care vouchers.
- Voucher Enrollment Unit (VEU): issues subsidized child care vouchers to assist eligible low-income families with child care payments at private, participating programs. VEU is also responsible for voucher handling enrollment issues, inquiries, and program and provider eligibility.
- Transitional Child Care (TCC) processes child care referrals for families transitioning from Cash Assistance and are eligible for subsidized child care services under the one-year Transitional Benefits program.
- Special Referral Unit: works closely with ACS' child protection, prevention, and foster care programs to secure child care and other primary prevention services for families with active ACS' child welfare cases.
- New York City Safe Sleep Initiative: A Mayoral Initiative established in 2015, the NYC Safe Sleep Initiative strives to prevent sleep-related infant injury deaths through stakeholder partnerships, community engagement, public education, and advocacy. The Safe Sleep Unit offers free training and information to raise awareness about the potentially fatal risks associated with unsafe sleep practices, such as bedsharing and stomach sleeping, and puts resources directly into the hands of families to help parents and caregivers safeguard infants while they sleep. We serve all of NYC with a focus in communities with high rates of sleep-related infant injury deaths to address long-standing disparities and achieve equity in infant survival.
- Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships: Serves as a liaison and provides technical assistance to ACS' Community Partnerships and Family Enrichment Centers, helps deepen the community's awareness and connections to ACS programs and services through the Getting to Know ACS discussion series, and builds a variety of neighborhood and citywide partnerships that promote family and child safety, stability, and well-being.
- Community Partnerships: neighborhood networks of providers and residents currently operating in 11 New York City communities to share resources and information. The Partnerships also serve as a space for community leaders (called "Community Ambassadors") to develop and promote community-led child and family well-being strategies and inform ACS policy and practice.
- Family Enrichment Centers: home-like spaces as unique as the communities they serve, where neighbors come to connect, contribute to their community, find resources, support one another, and build protective factors that help families through activities and events (called "Offerings") co-designed with Parent Leaders from the community. ACS currently has Family Enrichment Centers operating in three communities.
- Policy and Compliance: Provides quality assurance and improvement to safeguard compliance and standards, including oversight of federal Child Care Block Grant funding administrated by the Department of Education. The unit also focuses on policy, quality, equity, and integrity in ACS' child care operations so eligible families can receive the services they need.
Much of our work is embedded in the community and we incorporate the following as guiding strategies in our efforts with internal and external partners:
- First, a focus on community engagement that ensures access to quality community-based primary prevention services, promotes aware and informed communities through public events and public information campaigns, and supports new and emerging community leaders in our programs and in building supportive networks of providers and neighbors.
- Second, we value collaboration, strengthening existing and building new partnerships among ACS programs, with other New York City agencies, and with community residents and providers, and look to community voices and stakeholders to inform our efforts and to create open and accessible programs.
- Finally, we work toward equity, as we recognize that efforts to reduce child welfare system involvement will not be actualized without addressing the inequities that have historically existed in the child welfare system. We incorporate equity goals into all our programs, and partner with ACS' Office of Equity Strategies and other divisions to advance equity initiatives and contribute to creating an anti-racist culture within the agency.