The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development is a network of organizations and programs that were developed to provide important services to communities in need. DYCD is based in the communities they serve to alleviate issues hands-on that are related to poverty and to give New Yorker residents and the society that surrounds them ample opportunity and necessary resources in order to flourish.
The DYCD funds a number of programs that serve the very young as well as the very old. These youth and development programs are located in under-resourced communities that we discuss in greater detail later in this article.
The DYCD bases its mode of operations on a set of guiding principles. The organization manages its investments such that poorer communities with fewer resources are given priority over communities that are more affluent.
One of the major goals of DYCD is to provide opportunities to residents in poorer communities to improve their quality of life. When residents of poorer areas are able to overcome adversities, this improves day-to-day life for all New Yorkers.
Through stewardship and the responsible management of the city’s resources, this organization supports individual integrity and the honoring of ethical behaviors in oneself and in others, as well as impactful results, transparency, and accountability.
Strategic relationships that allow one to grow and maintain a connection to community-based organizations are important to DYCD. One of the most important goals that the DYCD strives to achieve is to culturally align with the populations they serve while promoting inclusiveness.
The organization is made up of a staff of individuals from diverse backgrounds to reflect the diversity of New York City itself and the Big Picture mission of DYCD. This organization encourages and inspires each project that’s been funded to provide quality services in all communities. The DYCD hopes to offer safe spaces and experiential opportunities within an accepting supportive, trustworthy, and welcoming environment.
An important mission that’s addressed through this organization is the development of a culture of adaptability and excellence for the individuals served.The DYCD takes a holistic approach to community development and strives to create collaborative relationships that serve either the individual or the whole family.
The organization gives a voice to New Yorkers through civic exchange to empower self-advocacy as well as stability, growth, and enhanced self-sufficiency. The DYCD is an organization that was created to encourage learning and professional development and to create a continuous flow of quality improvement.
What can DYCD do?
DYCD is an organization devoted to improving New York City residents’ quality of life. They accomplish that goal in part by collaborating with local organizations, but they also raise funds and then invest heavily in individual talents and assets that exist in the communities they serve. DYCD give priority to poorer communities and work tirelessly to help them grow, develop, and thrive.
DYCD offers a number of different programs to people of all ages within various New York City communities. Currently, these programs include:
● The Comprehensive After School System of New York City (COMPASS)
COMPASS NYC is made up of more than 900 separate programs designed to serve students in grades K-12. DYCD has a network of providers that offer students opportunities in recreation, academics, creativity, enrichment, and culture to support the continuing development of young people. Programs are age-appropriate and emotionally supportive. The program emphasizes youth engagement and keeping education fun.
This program functions as New York City’s primary agency for youth employment. It works to expand employment opportunities and programs for the city’s young people with an emphasis on serving youth between the ages of 14 and 24 years of age. By providing youth with access to real-world work experiences and opportunities to further their education, DYCD empowers students to be successful. Below are some of the sub-programs offered within this program:
● The Summer Youth Employment Program
● NYC Ladders for Leaders
● Train and Earn Program
● Learn and Earn Program
● Advance and Earn Program
● Work, Learn, and Grow Employment Program
Cornerstone Programs serve both youths and adults at 94 Community Centers in five different boroughs. The focus of Cornerstone Programs is in the provision of high-quality, year-round opportunities for self-improvement including:
● Academic support
● High school and college prep
● General Educational Development (GED)
● Life skills and interpersonal skill development
● Parenting skills
● Health living
● Workforce development and referrals
● English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
● Family relations training
● Computer access and training
● Intergenerational programs
● Cultural events and activities
● Tenant education and advocacy cultural activities
● Project-based activities
● Creative and performing arts
● Youth Councils
● Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
● Beacon Programs
The Beacon programs are located in public schools across New York City to serve kids aged 6+ and adults. There are 91 Beacon programs operating in five boroughs throughout New York City. These programs operate in the afternoons, evenings, weekends, and school holidays and summer vacation periods to offer a safe place for individuals to engage in recreation, do social-emotional learning, develop leadership skills, and more.
The DYCD funds services for runaway and homeless young people that includes Drop-in
Centers, Transitional Independent Living programs, Street Outreach and Referral Services, and Crisis Services Programs. These programs were developed to protect the runaway and homeless youth in the city by helping them get off the streets and access the necessary resources to stabilize their lives.
The DYCD provides an array of family support services that were developed to help families surmount life’s various challenges. From providing housing opportunities to programs that support fathers and senior citizens, the DYCD family support programs address issues pertinent to people of all ages.
● Contracting Opportunities
A network of organizations and programs were developed by DYCD to reduce the effects of poverty and provide opportunities to New York City residents and enhance the communities they live in. The service gives residents access to Invitations for Bids and Requests for Proposals among other things. The DYCD has contracts with a number of community organizations that offer services and activities for low-income populations and youth.
What does family support do?
Family support programs at DYCD were developed to assist families at all life stages. By providing family support, DYCD endeavors to buttress the most basic social unit that makes up a healthy community. Healthy families are vital to the stable functioning of society and by providing programs, funding, and resources in areas that are particularly needy, DYCD is able to foster not only healthy families, but also communities that are functional and thriving.
The family support program at DYCD addresses basic needs in the community through five different sub-programs. These include the Fatherhood Initiative, Healthy Families, Senior Programs and Services, Housing, and the NDA Adult LIteracy Program (BENL/ESOL).
The Fatherhood Initiative was designed to help fathers in poorer communities grow their parenting skills as well as their breadwinning abilities. This initiative recognizes the important role that fathers play in a family and how vital their participation is in the lives of children. By educating fathers about basic parenting skills and providing them with opportunities to develop those skills, DYCD recruits male members to take a more active role in shaping the family as well as the community.
The Healthy Families program, in contrast, provides needed resources to assist with issues such as domestic violence and substance abuse as well as HIV/AIDS, and nutrition and health services. Additionally families may access housing, education, employment, and a variety of other social services including government benefits through this program.
Senior Programs and Services at DYCD include a broad array of different activities and services that cater especially to older adults. These include social or recreational activities, exercise, and nutrition as well as intergenerational activities. Additionally, seniors may also gain access to medical assistance and community services as well as healthy insurance.
The DYCD Housing program addresses the need that every family has for safe, secure, and healthy housing. This program provides housing assistance to tenants with a low-income. It also assists with obtaining and maintaining affordable, adequate, and safe housing for tenant groups.
The NDA Adult Literacy Program works with New York City residents to help them achieve mastery over reading, writing, and communication skills. The mission of this program is to obtain gainful employment or to pursue higher levels of education.
Senior Programs and Services
Providing assistance to seniors in the community is vital to the healthy functioning of the family as well as the community. Senior citizens enrich the community and at times provide an essential layer of intergenerational support to young families. Currently, there are twenty-nine DYCD programs in New York state that were developed specifically for seniors. These programs serve 3,200 families each year.
The DYCD senior programs for adults aged 60 years plus provide services for seniors that were developed to foster not only physical health, but also psychological and social well-being as well. Senior programs include:
· Social activities
· Intergenerational activities
· Recreational activities
· Exercise and nutrition services
· Health insurance access
· Community services
· Medical assistance
· Housing assistance
These programs offer supportive services to the older adult population that allows them to maintain their independence while enabling those who are homebound to remain at home rather than being moved to assisted living or long-term care facilities. The senior program acknowledges diversity in the community and provides translation services as well as special supportive programs to assist older adults who are raising their grandchildren.
* Another relevant program that is not administered by the DYCD is the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP). CDPAP assists seniors and allows families to stay together over time. This is a Medicaid program that was developed primarily to provide services to physically disabled or chronically ill individuals who are in need of help.
Through this program, recipients can gain access to a personal care aide, home health aide, or nurse. Through CDPAP, consumers can choose their own caregiver which could be a family member or a close friend. Through CDPAP, the disabled or chronically ill person or a designated person acting on their behalf supervises and assumes full responsibility for hiring, training, and supervising employment of the health aide or nurse.
The Fatherhood Initiative is a DYCD program that was developed from research that shows a clear correlation between families that lack a father and children who tend to get in trouble at school, at home, or in the community. This research has shown that fathers who take an active and nurturing approach to fathering tend to get better results from their children.
Infants who have been fathered using an active, nurturing approach have higher verbal skills. Fathers who use this approach have better patience with toddlers and their adolescent children tend to have higher levels of intellectual functioning and academic achievement. The presence of a strong father who knows how to nurture his children is more likely to yield children who exhibit a strong sense of independence and self-control along with prosocial behaviors.
The DYCD Fatherhood Initiative has been in existence since 2002. This program recognizes the inherent value and importance of fathers and works to reconnect fathers with children to develop skills in basic parenting. Fathers play an important role in child development and when they become personally involved and begin to relate positively with their co-parent, everyone in the community benefits!
DYCD accomplishes the goal of fostering the growth of fathers by giving them a set of skills to increase the level of their engagement both in the family as a whole and with individual children. Fathers learn to take responsibility in their relationships and they learn how to provide both material and financial support to their children or child.
Both custodial as well as non-custodial fathers can access resources through the Fatherhood Initiative. Non-custodial fathers may experience special difficulties in terms of establishing healthy, positive, and supportive relationships with their kids. The issues many non-custodial fathers face include:
· Reconciling adolescent roles with fatherhood roles.
· Overcoming problems such as homelessness or unemployment.
· Addressing issues that arise as a result of absence due to prison incarceration or reentry.
To address the needs of both custodial and non-custodial fathers, DYCD offers two different program options for fathers in two different categories:
1. Fathers aged 18 years and older.
2. Fathers who have had prior involvement with the criminal justice system.
Both of these programs assist fathers and their children by providing them with up to 6 months of case management and follow-up services (as needed for up to a year). Service plans for the Fatherhood Initiative address 5 core areas:
1. Effective co-parenting with a child’s guardian
2. Employment and education
3. Parent skill development
4. Child visitation and placement
5. Child support.
The basic services that are provided by the Fatherhood Initiative program include individual as well as family counseling. Fathers may receive help with child support and the arrangement of child visitation as well. When conflicts exist in the family, mediation and conflict resolution training is available to de-escalate problems. Father-to-father mentoring and employment counseling and job referrals as well as High School Equivalency and English as a Second Language referrals are also provided.
Finally, DYCD’s Fatherhood initiative works with fathers in the community by partnering with the NYC fatherhood working group. Additionally, this program is also responsible for the annual Dads Take Your Child to School Day, Father’s Day events, and Mother’s Day recognition ceremonies.
DYCD currently funds 45 programs across New York state and serves about 4,500 families each year. The healthy families program at DYCD was designed to support and strengthen families by using strength-based case management. This approach is used to fill in the gaps and address the specific needs of each participant.
It’s based on the principles of family development. The case-management approach involves working directly with the family to determine their strengths, resources, and needs. Then, an individual strategy is developed to attain short-term and long-term goals. Finally, follow-up is done to find out whether the family’s goals were met or if their needs changed.
There are different programs and resources available through DYCD to assist families. These include:
· Domestic violence program
· Substance abuse program
· HIV/AIDS programs
· Health and nutrition programs
In addition to providing resources, families can also access assistance and advocacy to get safe, healthy housing, necessary government benefits, social services, employment, or education.
Currently, there are 35 fully funded DYCD housing programs across the state, serving approximately 4,500 families each year. DYCD created a housing program that was designed specifically to assist low-income tenants, tenant groups, and homeowners who wish to obtain and maintain affordable, healthy, and safe housing. The program caters to individuals and families to help them overcome issues such as code enforcement, rent issues, and landlord neglect. Additionally, DYCD offers advocacy to help connect eligible individuals and families with housing support programs, tenant’s rights information, education about predatory lending practices, and foreclosure prevention.
NDA Adult Literacy Program
The NDA Adult Literacy Program (BENL/ESOL) works to help New Yorkers achieve communication goals in reading and writing in order to obtain gainful employment and possibly even go on to pursue higher education. DYCD provides Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs with classes in math, reading and writing. These programs are for either native English speakers or speakers who are fluent in the English language.
DYCD acknowledges and seeks to support diversity in New York City’s communities by ensuring that they have access to English-language learning programs and High School Equivalency (HSE) test prep programs. Our programs offer comprehensive instruction and support services to students aged 16 years and older who are not enrolled in secondary school and who have not yet mastered the basic educational skills to participate in traditional education or training programs that are widely available in English. DYCD provides (HSE) programs that were developed to prepare students for the required tests that are necessary to obtain a HSE diploma. And English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes are available to students who wish to improve their reading and writing skills in English.
How important is family support?
Recent research has shown that family support is an essential component in individual success. The modern conceptualization of family support looks at a lack of resources in the family ecology and the match between the individual’s capability in tandem with environmental demands. There are emotional, physical, informational, and material types of support that are all relevant to this discussion. Familial support comes into play when functioning is compromised within the family or the individual and weaknesses exposed. According to this definition, a supportive family is one that provides assistance only when needed while allowing the individual family member to develop and grow without the development of enabling behaviors from the other members.
The family is a primary means of support for individuals, but the family is also the fundamental unit of society and the community where it is located. Impoverished communities that lack resources lead to impoverished families that also lack important resources. DYCD is a program that was designed to buttress both community and family support by providing important resources that particularly benefit neighborhoods and communities where valuable resources and guidance are lacking.
Family support and support of the family by the community are reciprocal processes. Supportive families foster resilience in its individual members and maintain the health of caregivers in the family unit itself as well as the larger society. When community organizations like DYCD provide support for families, the result is a reduction in stress that makes it possible for both families and communities to overcome the difficulties they face.
Research has shown that there is a significant relationship between families that are adequately supported by the surrounding community (through extended family, friends, and professional) and quality of life for individual members. Familial support reduces parent stress and increases familial well-being and satisfaction. Research reviews have concluded that there is an association between family support and positive individual and community outcomes.