In 2017, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services developed the Family Enrichment Center (FEC) model. Fully operated by local organizations known for their knowledge of the community, the Centers are places of creativity and hope.
Guided by the belief that parents and other community members are the experts in their lives, the Centers foster conditions that help all family members be their best selves.
While no two Centers are the same, all are based on the co-design approach that encourages community ownership, respect, and equity.
A successful Center helps to lift up the enormous strengths in each child, youth, and adult who walks through its doors and supports healthy family functioning.
The FEC model is the result of 18 months of research, development, and input from community providers and other stakeholders. It is shaped by Strengthening Families, a family protective factors approach created by the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
The early success of the FECs has been mainly due to the dedication and resilience of community members who view the Center staff as their extended family and the FEC as their second home.
Initially launched by three local organizations in Hunts Point-Longwood, East New York, and Highbridge, Centers are co-led by an advisory group of committed community members who choose the Center’s name, decide on the decor, and help spread the word to others who may need some support or have an interest in giving back to the community.
Between 2021 and 2024, ACS will invite local organizations to submit proposals for 27 new Centers citywide, bringing the total number to 30.
Parent Cafés: Parent-led discussions where participants share personal experiences and knowledge to identify ways to support one another. There are also café options for single people who may not play a parenting role. Cafés and printed materials are offered in multiple languages commonly spoken in the community.
Appreciative Inquiry: Together, community members discover the best of their communities, create a dream for the future, and design and walk a path to get there together.
Protective Factors: When protective factors are well established in a family structure, studies have shown that the likelihood of child abuse and neglect diminishes, and well-being increases.
The five evidence-based protective factors include parental resilience, knowledge of parenting and child development, social and emotional competence of children, social connections, and concrete support in times of need. The Centers have incorporated economic mobility and communication as two additional protective factors.
FEC- Washington Heights & Inwood Director
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