New York City's Administration for Child Services (ACS) coordinates prevention services with over 135 different programs and over 45 providers to help approximately 44,000 children annually live safely with their families. The existing process for connecting families with the agency does not account for their needs and opinions.
The NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity) focused on designing a family-centered process with ACS. The team collaborated with agency staff, providers, and families to assess stakeholder needs and challenges in the existing process. Using their field research, the team identified significant confusion surrounding prevention services, a lack of family choice in the process, and a need to relay feedback from families to ACS.
NYC Opportunity developed a variety of documents, graphics, and pamphlets to explain the process to families using plain language and clear visual aids. One of these tools is the Provider Profile, which empowers families to choose providers on their own based on their needs. Additionally, the team compiled a list of contact information for all relevant agencies, providers, and programs to highlight the options available to families. For agency staff, the team created a Family Voice booklet containing extensive feedback from program users.
Project Outcomes and Impact
NYC Opportunity is currently testing its products with ACS staff and the agency's partner programs. The team's work creates a framework for further innovation and future initiatives—including new documents and a web-based portal for families to choose and interact with service providers.
NYC Opportunity conducted extensive field research to create clear goals for their project. For effective project implementation, designers may consider testing their products and steadily phasing them in to identify areas for improvement and to continuously incorporate feedback in their work.