Connecting to Public Benefits
Helping your families connect with services
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
Find everything you need to help your staff collaboratively support connecting families.
How-To Guide includes
- Why is Benefits Access important?
- Different way to use strategy and toolkit
- Planning worksheets (both yearly and monthly)
- Evaluation tracker
Connecting families to public benefits involves three steps:
Step 1: Finding Service Providers
Services can be found to address many issues- food, shelther, job placement, cash assistance, health care, etc.
FIRST, find out what's already in your community.
The Office of Community Schools's Asset 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: Talking with Families
Tips for talking with families:
1. Consistent messaging from school staff.
2. Remember asking for help can be hard so be patient!
3. Find conversation starters and other tools for interacting with families at Children's Health Fund's Healthy and Ready to Learn Training and Resource Center.
4. Benefits Access Toolkit has materials to help schools find out what families need and how they want to be helped by the school.
Step 3: Building Connections
Schools can, and should, build connections with local offices and organizations that can provide services to their families.
Schools should also be building connections with their families by providing concrete
Not sure where to begin? Here are a few tools designed to help you!
To find the closest sites near your school for referring families to benefits, look under
Single Stop (Green Icon)
DSS/HRA Sites (Yellow Icon)