Connecting to Public Benefits

The Benefits Access Strategy and Toolkit, developed by the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools (OCS) and the Public Policy Lab (PPL), supports school staff in referring families to public benefits and local services.

The Strategy and Toolkit are designed to amplify the existing practices and relationships that school staff have with families, with consideration for:

  • a school team’s varied capacity

  • the different roles that make a supportive school environment possible

  • and the primary needs of families living in New York City

  • Why is Benefits Access important?

  • Different way to use strategy and toolkit

  • Planning worksheets (both yearly and monthly)

  • Evaluation tracker

School & parent facing materials to help you:

  • Prepare school staff for implementation

  • Reach out to families

  • Connect families with public benefits

TRANSLATIONS AVAILABLE for all parent-facing materials! In all 9 DOE languages!

Connecting families to public benefits involves three steps:

Step 1: Finding Service Providers

Services can be found to address many issues - food, shelter, job placement, cash assistance, health care, etc.

First, find out what's already in your community.

The Office of Community Schools's Assets and Needs Assessment is designed to help you better understand the network that already exists in your community.

Click here to find additional asset maps and tools to help you find services in your community.

Step 2: Speaking with Families

Tips for speaking with families:

Step 3: Building Connections

Schools can, and should, build connections with local offices and organizations that can provide services to their families.

Additional Benefits Access Tools

The Health Information Tool for Empowerment (HITE) is an online directory offering information on more than 5,000 health and social services available to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals in New York City, Long Island and Westchester. Free and open to the public, HITE helps connect users to vital community services quickly and easily.

The STH Resource Guide is a guide to navigating New York City’s public services. It was made with and for families of students living in temporary housing or experiencing homelessness and the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Students in Temporary Housing (STH).