New York Children’s Center (CCNY) has been in Queens since 1953, becoming a mainstay of the area providing a variety of mental health services.
CCNY has over 50 different locations and 100 programs throughout the city, 40 of which are 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 funds. Most recently, the New York Community Trust, a public benefit organization, awarded CCNY a $175,000 grant to expand mental health services for young people in Queens.
“Because the pandemic has impacted the mental well-being of so many New Yorkers, especially children, grants are prioritizing access to high-quality, affordable services for young people in Queens and across the city,” said Irfan Hasan, spokesperson for The New York Community Trust. . vice president of grants.
The CCNY Behavioral Division consists of three family wellness centers in Flushing, Woodside and Jamaica. These sites also have 13 satellite programs in schools and community centers throughout the area for access by young people in need of mental health care.
Each of these three centers partners with the New York State Office of Mental Health and the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse to provide comprehensive mental health, addiction and primary health care services. The three centers – Macari Family Wellness Center, Jamaica Family Wellness Center and Woodside Family Wellness Center – have two primary care units where vaccinations, health screenings and more are done.
Tracey Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer, said CCNY prioritizes integrated services to ensure accessibility for community members.
“We wanted to create a one-stop-shop for parents,” Donnelly said. “I have four children, I try to coordinate all your meetings and get into all their meetings. [difficult.] We felt that we would have better results if we put all the services under one roof.”
Macari Family Wellness Center provides prenatal care with a focus on strengthening parenting bonds and breaking cycles of trauma or abuse.
“This is really to support parents who could potentially be at risk for postpartum depression,” Donnelly said.
With a $2.9 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, CCNY is expanding the Woodside Clinic to energize its intensive outpatient program for teens who are at risk of self-harm or suicide.
While Donnelly said CCNY’s operating budget has grown nearly $60 million over the past decade, she feels there will never be enough money to get it all done.
“It really is never enough. Now you have a workforce shortage and an increase in mental health services – this combination has forced us to be innovative and creative,” Donnelly said. “There’s never enough funding in government contracts to do what you want.”
Donnelly said most of the funding is not enough to cover the outreach or engagement services needed to make their programs effective.
“The government will pay you for contract work, but you always have to do more to make the program successful,” Donnelly said. “The answer is not ‘we don’t have enough funding’. We have to say, “Here are the needs and here is what we have.”
Last year, CCNY served over 40,000 New Yorkers, including about 7,000 in mental health programs. However, Donnelly said the more than 451,000 children and youth living in Queens face barriers to health.
Donnelly said that particularly in Queens, the area’s child poverty rate is over 13 percent, but in areas where they concentrate services, it’s as high as 28 percent.
“Many immigrant families live in substandard and overcrowded homes, some live with other families and face other challenges such as social exclusion and cultural conflicts,” Donnelly said. “Because parents devote most of their energy to economic survival, there is little time left to meet the developmental needs of children. The negative impact of these social determinants of health is evidenced by the poor mental health outcomes of youth in the district.”
Donnelly also mentioned that the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (2019) of high school students in Queens found that 35 percent felt so sad almost every day for two weeks that they stopped doing normal activities, 14.7 percent thought about suicide, and 9.7 percent experienced date violence. .
“Despite the obvious need, public resources have never been sufficient to meet the needs of these young people,” Donnelly said. “The situation has deteriorated sharply due to the pandemic and the recent closure of several inpatient hospitals. The Children’s Center maintains a waiting list of 200-300 people at any given time.”
Donnelly said the most common mental health issues faced by Queens residents are depression, anxiety, ADHD, mood disorders, substance abuse and major trauma.
If someone thinks they might benefit from CCNY mental health services, they can call the clinic’s main number at 718-358-8288 during regular business hours or the 24-hour telephone service at 718-830-5061.