The New York Children’s Center (CCNY) has been operating in Queens since 1953, becoming a pillar of the neighborhood, providing a variety of mental health services.
CCNY has over 50 different locations and 100 programs across the city, with 40 in Queens. The non-profit organization focuses on behavioral health, youth development, housing services, family support and more, serving over 43,000 children and families.
With an operating budget of over $ 92 million, CCNY receives most of its funding from federal and state Medicaid, as well as grants and private fundraising. Most recently, the New York Community Trust, a public charity, donated $ 175,000 to the CCNY grant to expand mental health services for young people in Queens.
“Because the pandemic has affected the mental well-being of so many New Yorkers, especially children, our grant has given priority to access to high-quality and affordable services for young people in Queens and across the city,” said Irfan Hassan, The New York Community Trust. . Vice President of Grants.
The CCNY Behavioral Division consists of three family wellness facilities in Flushing, Woodside and Jamaica. These sites also have 13 satellite programs in schools and community centers in the area to access young people in need of mental health services.
Each of these three centers has partnered with the New York State Mental Health Service and the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Service to provide integrated mental health, substance abuse and primary care services. The three sites – Macari Family Wellness Center, Jamaica Family Wellness Center and Woodside Family Wellness Center – have two offices for primary care, where they perform vaccinations, physical examinations and more.
Tracy Donnelly, chief executive, said CCNY prioritizes integrated services to ensure accessibility for community members.
“We wanted to create a counter for parents,” Donnelly said. “I have four children who are trying to coordinate and get to all your meetings and all their meetings are [difficult.] We felt that we would have better results if we put all services under one roof. “
The Macari Family Wellness Center provides prenatal care, focusing on building parental relationships and breaking the cycle of trauma or abuse.
“It’s really about supporting parents who may be at risk of postpartum depression,” Donnelly said.
Following a $ 2.9 million grant from the Administration on Substance Abuse and Mental Health, CCNY is expanding the Woodside Clinic to strengthen its intensive outpatient program for teens at risk of self-harm or suicide.
Although Donnelly said CCNY’s operating budget has grown by nearly $ 60 million over the past decade, she believes there will never be enough funding to do it all.
“It simply came to our notice then. “Now you have a labor shortage and an increase in mental health services – this combination has forced us to become innovative and creative,” Donnelly said. “There is never enough funding in government contracts to do what you want.
Donnelly said most of the funding is not enough to cover the field services or engagement needed to make their programs effective.
“The government will pay you for your contract work, but you always have to do more to make the program a success,” Donnelly said. “The answer is not ‘we don’t have enough funding.’ We have to say, “Here are the needs and here’s what we have.”
Last year, CCNY served more than 40,000 New Yorkers, including about 7,000 in mental health programs. However, Donnelly said Queens is home to more than 451,000 children and young people who face barriers to wellness.
Especially in Queens, Donnelly said the area faces more than 13 percent child poverty, but the areas where services are concentrated are up to 28 percent.
“Many immigrant families live in poor and overcrowded housing, some double up with other families and face other difficulties such as social exclusion and cultural conflicts,” Donnelly said. “As parents devote most of their energy to economic survival, there is little time left to meet their children’s developmental needs. The negative impact of these social determinants on health is confirmed in the poor mental health outcomes of young people in the area.
Donnelly also mentioned that the Queens High School Risk Behavior Monitoring System (2019) found that 35 percent felt so sad almost every day for two weeks that they stopped doing normal activities, 14.7 one percent have considered suicide and 9.7 percent have experienced violence in meetings. .
“Despite the clear need, there have never been enough community resources to meet the needs of these young people,” Donnelly said. “The situation has deteriorated dramatically due to the pandemic and the recent closure of several residential hospitals. The children’s center maintains a waiting list of 200-300 people at any one time. “
Donnelly said the most common mental health problems facing Queens residents are depression, anxiety, ADHD, mood disorders, substance abuse and severe trauma.
If someone thinks they can benefit from CCNY’s mental health services, they can call the clinic’s primary number at 718-358-8288 during regular business hours or the 24/7 telephone service at 718-830-5061 .