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

Find all school & parent facing materials to help you

  • PREPARE school staff for implementation
  • REACH OUT to families
  • CONNECT families with public benefits

TRANSLATIONS NOW 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, 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!

OCS Asset & Needs Assessment

Benefits Access Toolkit CONNECT Materials

To find the closest sites near your school for referring families to benefits, look under

Single Stop (Green Icon)

DSS/HRA Sites (Yellow Icon)

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Reach us on our WhatsApp chat or email communityschools@schools.nyc.gov.