“The positive impacts of New York City’s Family Enrichment Centers make it clear that supporting families is a critical investment in our children’s future,” said Dr. William C. Bell, president and CEO of Casey Family Programs, the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care in the United States. “This report underscores the important role that New York’s FECs, and the more than 3,000 family resource centers across the country, play in building communities of hope, where all children and families have the support they need to thrive.”
“Our findings suggest that ACS has developed a promising model of a community-based resource hub where families can access supports to promote individual and family well-being” said Youth Services, Inc. President Ajay Akashu. “This study provides important preliminary evidence that Family Enrichment Centers play a positive role in strengthening protective factors, including family functioning and social support that we know from prior research are buffers for preventing child maltreatment.”
The FECs partner with families to co-design “offerings” responsive to their needs and interests, providing resources and supports across various domains of child and family well-being. FECs are open-door, walk-in facilities, with no connection to other child welfare services. Each Center was named by community members through a participatory process, and are locally known as: Circle of Dreams, O.U.R. Place and The C.R.I.B, administered by ACS-funded community-based organizations (Bridge Builders, Graham Windham and Good Shepherd), respectively. Members’ contact information is kept confidential and local residents share in the leadership structure of the Centers.
The centers offer warm, vibrant and inviting community spaces that provide opportunities for family members to connect with each other and their neighbors, access resources, share interests and seek emotional support to help manage life challenges. The programming at each of the three FECs focuses on seven key areas: health and well-being, economic stability and employment, child development and education, parenting skills, positive relationships, community engagement, and supportive advocacy.
In 2019, ACS contracted with Youth Studies, Inc. (YSI) to conduct the first-ever evaluation study of the FECs. Given the substantial research evidence pointing to the relationship between protective factors and positive developmental outcomes for children and youth and reducing child maltreatment, the evaluation focused on the impact that members’ engagement with the FECs have had on strengthening family functioning, social supports, and nurturing and attachment.