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Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity's "Designing for Opportunity" Initiative Announces Winner of First Agency Competition

April 27, 2018

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April 27, 2018
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The Administration for Children’s Services, winner of this first-ever citywide competition, will have the unique opportunity to work with the City’s Service Design Studio on a year-long endeavor that focuses on community input when offering prevention services to families in need.


NEW YORK, Today, the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity announced that its Service Design Studio, the nation’s first municipal design studio dedicated to improving services for low-income residents, has selected the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Division of Prevention Services as the winner of its “Designing for Opportunity” initiative. ACS will have the unique opportunity to consult with the Service Design Studio on an innovative project that will ultimately provide community members and families with the opportunity to shape the prevention services offered by the agency. The ACS project aims to increase the number of families who voluntarily seek services and prevent children from entering foster care. Prevention services may include: substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, evidence-based family therapy, and resources for education and job training.

The Service Design Studio, part of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, provides design consulting services, trainings, and events tailored specifically to colleagues in New York City government who are working to develop or improve existing programs. Established in October 2017 with support from founding partner Citi Community Development, the Studio launched its “Designing for Opportunity” initiative in January 2018, inviting all NYC government agencies to propose how a service design process could help them address poverty-related challenges.

The winning “Designing for Opportunity: Pathways to Prevention” project was proposed by the Community Based Strategies team within ACS’ Division of Prevention Services. This team helps develop new programs and initiatives driven by data, research, and family voice, including drop-in group therapy centers citywide for families with young children, and new domestic violence services launching later this year.

Over the next 12 months, ACS professionals and designers from the Studio will work together to employ “service design” methodologies to create stronger ties among ACS employees, community nonprofits, and the families and children they serve. Service design is a participatory approach that incorporates ethnographic field research, behavioral science, economics, information technology, design, and other related disciplines. The approach actively involves all stakeholders of a service—including and especially those who receive it—to fully capture how it is delivered and used, identify opportunities for improvement, and explore and test potential solutions.

The “Designing for Opportunity: Pathways to Prevention” partnership will look at four elements of prevention program service delivery: 1) the family engagement process, 2) matching and enrolling families to programs, 3) family experiences while enrolled in services, and 4) staff experiences. Through comprehensive interviews with families and service providers and by watching how providers work, the Studio will recommend and guide service enhancements for families and service providers including policy, communications, technology, and service interactions.

The Studio received 15 “Designing for Opportunity” proposals from nine agencies and offices. Primary themes in the proposals included access to services, youth services, housing, health, and education. Semi-finalists included ACS’s Division of Prevention Services, the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Labor Policy and Standards (OLPS), the Board of Correction (BOC), and the ACS’s Family Assessment Program (FAP).

“I’m thrilled that the City’s Service Design Studio recognized the important work happening at ACS and selected our Division of Prevention Services as the winner of its first-ever citywide competition,” said David Hansell, ACS Commissioner. “Today’s ACS is focused on providing families with the support they need to succeed. What makes our winning project unique is that, once completed, community members and families will have had a say in which preventive services are offered by ACS; it advances our ongoing effort to reach families proactively with the services they need to thrive. I look forward to the results of this unique partnership.”

ACS Deputy Commissioner of Prevention Services Dr. Jacqueline Martin said: “In my 25 years serving families I’ve learned that we must always keep families at the center in all we do. In building our Community Based Strategies team our goal was to leverage human-centered design strategies to uplift family experiences and drive a socially just social service system. By partnering with the Design Studio, we will scale these strategies across over 200 programs citywide, and learn valuable lessons about better serving families in the process.”

“The Service Design Studio adds important additional capacity to how our office partners with agencies and supports the City’s efforts to address poverty-related challenges,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “We are inspired by the work of ACS’ Community Based Strategies team and are excited for the Studio to help support their vision for children and families.”

“We’re thrilled to see this inaugural ‘Design for Opportunity’ project moving forward as a powerful reminder of the great value and promise of the City’s Service Design Studio— the only design studio of its kind embedded in city government in the nation. The work between NYC Opportunity and ACS—supported by our visionary funding partners at Citi Community Development— also shows how New York City remains at the forefront of exploring and pursuing innovative solutions that benefit our communities,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

“The Administration for Children’s Services bears the responsibility of providing vital support services to address the complex needs of tens of thousands of New York City families,” said Eileen Auld, NY/Tri-State Market Director, Citi Community Development. “By using an approach that directly engages with families, communities and service providers throughout the design process, this collaboration between ACS and the Service Design Studio has the potential to reshape the way the City of New York meets the needs of its most vulnerable residents.”

About the Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity
The Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity) uses evidence and innovation to reduce poverty and increase equity. It advances research, data and design in the City’s program and policy development, service delivery, and budget decisions. NYC Opportunity’s work includes analyzing existing anti-poverty approaches, developing new interventions, facilitating the sharing of data across City agencies, and rigorously assessing the impact of key initiatives. NYC Opportunity manages a discrete fund and works collaboratively with City agencies to design, test and oversee new programs and digital products. It also produces research and analysis of poverty and social conditions, including its influential annual Poverty Measure, which provides a more accurate and comprehensive picture of poverty in New York City than the federal rate.

About the Service Design Studio at the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity
In October 2017, the Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity) launched the Service Design Studio to help further the City’s use of human-centered design methods. The Studio partners with agencies to engage with residents and those who deliver services so that their insights can shape new and existing programs. The Studio team is versed in design tools, experienced in developing in-person and digital services, and focused on addressing poverty-related challenges. The Studio invites city agencies and offices to join an office hour to answer questions and provide service design support. Founding Partner Citi Community Development provides support through the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.

About the New York City Administration for Children’s Services
The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) protects and promotes safety and well-being of New York City’s children and families by providing child welfare, juvenile justice, and early care and education services. For more information, please visit: