Center for Family Life in Sunset Park Brooklyn’s response to COVID-19
Shared by Siobhan O’Flaherty, Development Assistant – Center For Family Life
Center for Family Life provides comprehensive, neighbourhood-based social services in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. We partner with the community to provide access to resources, economic development and opportunities for personal growth and the development of interpersonal relationships that sustain and nurture families, support youth to grow into confident, capable adults and enrich the quality of life for neighborhood residents. The object of our partnership is to ensure all community members have the supports that they may need to exercise voice and choice and to engage meaningfully in the civic life of their neighborhood.
A proven catalyst for progress in this densely populated, low-income neighborhood, the Center helps adults, youth and families realize their potential and shape the direction of the community in which they live. Our staff speak the languages and share the cultures of Sunset Park’s immigrant community. We meet a family’s needs from every angle – including employment, counselling, education and youth development – reaching residents where they live, work and gather through an integrated network of comprehensive services. We partner with community residents, neighborhood organizations, local public schools and city agencies to apply fresh thinking to complex challenges – driving systemic change through practice innovation and model building, and through the elevation of community voice and decision-making.
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is a low-income, predominantly immigrant community. Sunset Park residents are experiencing serious challenges at this time, including unemployment, a lack of resources for child care for parents who still need to work, food insecurity, and inadequate access to healthcare. In 2017, 45% of the individuals living in Sunset Park were foreign-born, a number consistent with the rate of 46% in 2000. In 2017, 41% percent of residents were Latino, 32% were Asian- a significant increase from 22% in 2000, 23% were white- a figure that has remained fairly consistent since 2000), and 3% were African-American.
As a result of this large population of recently arrived families, Sunset Park has the fourth highest concentration of individuals with limited English proficiency in New York City (49%). In 2017, 22% of residents, 27% of neighborhood children, and 25% of the community’s elderly were determined to be living below the poverty line. 31% of Sunset Park households experience food hardship, with household members either sometimes or often running out of food, or sometimes or often worrying about running out of food without having enough money to buy more.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to impact families in Sunset Park and across New York City, Center for Family Life is so very proud of the staff members across our programs who are working tirelessly to implement creative programming to address the needs expressed by our neighbors. From our food pantry, which has expanded its capacity to address surging food insecurity in our community, to our virtual after school program, where youth participants are choosing from a diverse menu of creative programming to our free tax preparation program, where clients will soon be able to access end-to-end virtual services that will mimic an in-person experience, all of CFL’s programs are continually adapting to and overcoming the challenges we face. While the majority of our programming is now operating remotely, we continue to provide critical in-person services and remain a stabilizing anchor in our community.