Center for Family Life in Sunset Park

Programs & Services


The work of Center for Family Life is grounded in the daily, lived experience of the Sunset Park community and guided by a vision of neighborhood families and social institutions evolving over time and contributing to each other’s ongoing development.

Our comprehensive range of services aims to sustain and nurture families, and to create a supportive community from which children can emerge as confident, capable adults.

The Center’s programs are designed to reinforce the role of the agency as a stabilizing anchor in the community, one that provides culturally consonant services and creates environments where participants’ strengths are recognized and they are treated as valued partners rather than subjects.

Through its extensive portfolio of integrated services, Center for Family Life serves over 15,000 individuals in over 8,000 families each year.

Family Counseling

Center for Family Life is the principal provider of preventive counseling in Sunset Park, serving approximately 500 families each year.  Our Family Counseling Program was among the first Center for Family Life programs and it continues to be integral to our work today.

Through home and office visits, group activities, advocacy and referral to supportive services, our caseworkers help families to develop individualized plans that address their unique situations and deepen their sense of connection to the neighborhood. The success of our preventive counseling program contributes to the low rate of children entering foster care in Sunset Park, less than half the city average. Families served include both voluntary participants and those mandated by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Counseling services are available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Center also provides case management services as a key member of the Sunset Park Alliance for Youth, a collaboration of local organizations that serves a growing population of disconnected youth in our neighborhood. The Alliance’s Supporting Potential in our Neighborhood (SPIN) program fills a significant service gap in our community, and by fostering collaboration and the sharing of resources and best practices among member agencies, it improves their individual capacity to deliver effective services and meet the needs of their participants.

Our ParentShip Program represents the extension of our approach to family support and child abuse prevention beyond the provision of traditional case management services. Building on our expertise with social group work, this initiative provides innovative parenting support groups that help new immigrant participants develop as nurturing and nurtured parents raising bicultural children. Using the Parenting Journey™ curriculum designed by the Family Center, we have developed several new curricula tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of Sunset Park immigrant parents. These groups help participants gain a sense of hope about their own effectiveness as parents, and they learn how and where to seek help in their communities, reducing social isolation. Recognizing the severe impact of the migration experience for many of our constituents, we have also developed our capacity to respond to immigration-related trauma with a highly trained, culturally competent staff.

If you are experiencing a family problem and would like to talk to one of our counselors, the Center’s free family counseling program can help you:

Family Counseling Services
443 39th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232

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Foster Care Program

Our foster care program, which has gained wide recognition as a model for neighborhood-based, family-centered services in New York City and across the United States, provides training and case management for licensed foster families in Sunset Park who care for more than 35 children each year.

By placing children with foster families in the community, the program seeks to reduce the trauma of separation from family members and to maximize opportunities for remediation and reunification in a normalizing neighborhood environment. Our program model is based on providing help to overcome barriers to effective parenting and supports to promote greater parental competency. Equally important is our focus on supporting meaningful community involvement in networks of friends and social services, with the goal of promoting ongoing family stability. Birth parents, foster parents, and children have access to services and resources at the Center and in the community both during and after the placement period.

If you have a child in foster care and live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, please contact our foster care director to discuss how we can help

If you are seeking family counseling services and live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, please contact our intake coordinator.

Foster Care Program
443 39th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232

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School-Based Programs

Comprehensive, school-based youth development services are offered as on-site programs for children, youth and adults in six Sunset Park schools:

Our programs at six neighborhood public school sites serve more than 5,000 youth and adults each year, with daily attendance reaching 1,700 participants. Program components include afterschool, school age child care and summer day camps, service learning and youth leadership activities, job-readiness and youth employment, indoor/outdoor Neighborhood Centers, and parent, family and community special events, as well as in-school partnerships with teachers and students at Sunset Park High School and MS 136/MS 821.

Our school-based programs offer a full spectrum of daily activities during the school year and the summer help elementary, middle and high school youth acquire the academic capacity and emotional and social skills  that enrich education experience and foster their development into confident, capable adults.

As they progress from elementary to high school graduation, students’ academic achievement is supported by arts-enriched learning, tutoring, mentoring, homework assistance, credit recovery, internships, college readiness and project-based service activities integrated into in-school, afterschool and summer programming to promote skill building in core academic subject areas and a successful transition from one academic stage to the next. Students receive adult and peer support and their families have direct access to the Center’s full range of social services to address academic, social and personal issues interfering with their academic success.

Community School Projects at PS 503/506, PS 1, PS 169 and PS 971

The Community School model aims to make schools the hub of enriching, supportive, and inclusive activities that bring together children, youth, and adults from our diverse community. Center for Family Life’s school-based programs use social group work methodology and purposeful activities to involve participants in group experiences that promote individual growth, support family life, and create a sense of community.

At each site, we offer a five-day-a-week School Age Child Care/Afterschool Program for youth, ages 5 – 13. All children in the program receive a daily snack, academic enrichment /homework assistance and weekly instruction in creative/visual arts, performing arts, literacy, and sports/games.

A six-week Summer Day Camp, for youth, ages 5- 13, provides 3 days of onsite activities in visual and performing arts and literacy, as well as 2 days of educational, cultural, and recreational field trips. Special events include theme days and an all-camp final show for parents and the community.

A Youth Leadership/Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program for youth ages 14 and older, offers volunteer work experiences, training, and academic and personal support, while providing a context in which teenagers and younger children can enjoy the mutual benefits of intergenerational relationships. CITs receive monthly stipends based on their participation.

Neighborhood Center is a year-round program that offers a variety of cultural, educational, and recreational activities – indoors and outdoors – for youth and their families. Neighborhood Center also offers special events, including Community Nights, where participants have the opportunity to present their work and everyone can join in a variety of inter-generational activities.

Our Parent Involvement Program offers family nights, special events, a sewing group, cultural outings, and volunteer support. Regular outreach to and problem-solving with parents around issues of behavior, academic performance, and social development helps sustain the large number of youth and fosters parental trust in the program. The Parent Advisory Council collaborates with staff on program planning, review, and development.

Our Advisory Council advises and supports each program in fulfilling its mission to be a safe haven and multicultural environment for children, youth, and families. It supports the development of programs through new initiatives, expanding existing programs, and fundraising and provides a forum for community interaction. The Advisory Council is comprised of Center for Family Life staff, youth representatives, school personnel, and parents.

Community School Project at PS 503/506
333 60th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220

Community School Project at PS 1
309 47th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220

Community School Project at PS 169
4305 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Community School Project at PS 971
6214 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11220

“Life Lines” Community Arts Project at MS 136/821 & Sunset Park HS

The “Life Lines” project is a free, nationally-recognized program that brings together social work, the arts, and education to involve participants in group experiences that promote individual growth and build community. “Life Lines” uses performing and visual arts to give expression to relevant social and emotional themes, promote cultural understanding, and strengthen interpersonal relationships.

Afterschool, summer, and in-school arts programs provide quality arts instruction in the context and continuity of long-term relationships with a staff of artists, social workers, and young adults from the community. Through participation in “Life Lines”, members experience themselves as active contributors to a group and to their community, while they develop their creativity, self-understanding, leadership, and competence in a variety of art forms.

During the school day, “Life Lines” artists and social workers partner with middle school teachers from MS 136 and MS 821 to create interdisciplinary learning projects. Semester-long projects expose students to a variety of art forms, reinforce content from social studies, science, math, and language arts curricula, and address New York State Learning Standards.

A five-day a week After-school Arts Program for students in grades 6-12 provides instruction in dance, acting, vocals, percussion, visual arts, and creative writing, along with daily homework assistance, computer access, and academic enrichment.

Throughout the year, Performing and Visual Arts Troupes provide pre-professional skill development in theater, dance, music and visual art along with leadership training and opportunities for teens to conduct workshops and performances on family and community issues with a variety of populations. During the summer, Troupes provide training and paid employment for youth, ages 14 and older, who participate in the Summer Youth Employment Program. Each year, Troupe workshops and performances reach more than 3,000 additional children, parents, senior citizens, and professionals in the New York area.

A High School Internship Program allows high school students to volunteer as intern staff in the afterschool program two afternoons per week. In addition to gaining work experience, interns attend a weekly discussion/ training group and receive academic assistance. Interns receive monthly stipends based on participation.

A six-week Community Arts Summer Day Camp serves youth ages 10-15. This program includes three days on-site for skill development in the arts and two days off-site for cultural and recreational trips, along with special event days, an overnight ecology camping trip, and an all-camp show.

Three Annual Productions include an improvisational drama with teen-created characters, songs, dance, and visual art that brings to life the struggles and vitality of our diverse neighborhood, a musical adaptation of literature from the middle school reading list, and a traveling summer theater production that immerses participants and audiences in cultural exploration.

Parent Programs include a parent advisory council, Community and Salsa Dance classes, parent-youth arts events, family cultural outings, and volunteer support for annual productions.

“Life Lines” Community Arts Project

Middle School 136/821
4004 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Sunset Park High School
153 – 35th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11232

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Sunset Park High School Advisory Partnership, Afterschool and Summer Camp Programs

Sunset Park High School – our neighborhood’s first and only public high school – opened in September 2009 after more than 30 years of community advocacy by community residents and neighborhood organizations seeking equitable access to quality education for youth in Sunset Park.

SPHS is a diverse, inclusive school that seeks to prepare all students for college and cultivate an ethic of service to local and global communities. The school is organized in three, theme-based Small Learning Communities that allow students to explore subjects through the lenses of Business & Entrepreneurship, Visual & Performing Arts, and Health & Human Services. As a key community partner to SPHS, the Center provides meaningful supports to the school and its students, both afterschool and during the school day.

Advisory Partnership: The Center is collaborating with SPHS and the Institute for Student Achievement to develop and implement a unique advisory program that pairs teachers with our youth development and social work staff. The program is based on the Institute for Student Achievement‘s model of distributed counseling. SPHS teachers and CFL staff co-lead weekly advisory groups that promote college readiness and foster inclusiveness and active participation in the school and community.

Groups provide a safe space and a source of support for youth as they encounter challenges in their personal and academic life and peer and family relationships. Activities are designed to address the specific developmental needs of adolescents, including the challenges of peer pressure, confrontation with authority and self-consciousness around emerging identity.

After-school and Summer Camp Program: Our school-community partnership supports a diverse range of daily afterschool activities that are implemented in collaboration with SPHS teachers and reinforce the advisory curriculum. Afterschool programming at SPHS combines the resources of the Center’s AIM Afterschool Program, Youth Employment Program and “Life Lines” Community Arts Project with tutoring and clubs led by SPHS teachers to provide a rich menu of academic and arts enrichment, sports and recreation, community service, college readiness and career exploration activities. All students complete an afterschool interest survey during orientation at the start of the school year, and their responses are used identify and prioritize activities with the highest level of interest.

The personalization that characterizes the high school’s Small Learning Community model is also a key element in the afterschool design. Each afterschool participant collaborates with a mentor to develop an individualized program schedule for the semester. SPHS teachers and CFL staff are committed to creating a menu of activities that work together, rather than compete for students’ interest and participation. The program’s carefully composed schedule pays close attention to the sequence of activities – for example, offering tutoring before popular clubs – to reduce conflicts and balance the need for in-depth academic supports with other areas of youth interest.

Sunset Park High School
153 – 35th Street
Brooklyn, New York 11232

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Summer Youth Employment Program

The Summer Youth Employment Program offers summer jobs with employers throughout Brooklyn for youth ages 14-24. Worksites include local government agencies, libraries, hospitals and clinics, child care centers, summer day camps, senior centers and nursing homes, community organizations and retail firms.

In the summer of 2012, we coordinated summer jobs and workshops for nearly 900 participants. The program generated earnings that infused money in the local economy and made a real impact in the lives of young people and their families.

If you are interested in participating in the summer youth employment program, please visit our website in early April to learn about when you can register for the SYEP lottery.

Summer Youth Employment Program
443 39th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232
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Adult Employment Services 

Our employment services provide job readiness and placement assistance to community residents while simultaneously meeting the hiring needs of employers and small businesses with highly motivated candidates.

The Center provides free employment preparation and job placement services to over 500 unemployed and underemployed adults each year. We offer individualized employment counseling, job search assistance, ESOL classes, workshops on a variety of career-related topics, and the opportunity to improve computer skills while searching for work. Our innovative Cooperative Project partners with immigrant workers to create opportunities that provide safe work at a fair wage.

If you are unemployed or seeking a full-time job, the Center’s free job-readiness program can help you:

  • Update your resume
  • Learn job search techniques and prepare for interviews
  • Enhance your computer skills
  • Gain fluency in English in our ESOL classes
  • Secure interviews with potential employers

Services for Employers: If you are looking to hire qualified employees, the Center for Family Life’s Hiring Solutions program helps businesses and organizations identify and recruit qualified personnel. Hiring Solutions is a free service to employers that helps you:

  • Save time and money
  • Find qualified applicants
  • Reduce turnover
  • Get ongoing support

Adult Employment Services
443 39th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Cooperative Business Development

 The Cooperative Business Development Program mobilizes community members and organizations to develop and launch cooperative businesses. We partner with immigrant and low-income workers to create new pathways to economic stability and opportunities for leadership. We support cooperatives in Sunset Park and partner with organizations that are engaged in incubating cooperative businesses. We offer an in-depth training on cooperative development, tailored support and technical assistance, and ongoing workshops to share learning and best practices.

Directory of Worker Cooperatives – CFL – Sept2017

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Please visit the websites of our cooperative business partners to learn more about the services they offer!


Action OSH
provides trainings on safe workplaces.


provides housecleaning and commercial cleaning services.

is a network of six socially responsible coops in Sunset Park.
Golden Steps
provides elder
care services.
provides commercial cleaning services.



Nanny Bee
provides baby sitting and childcare services in Upper Manhattan.

Pa’lante provides housecleaning
and commercial cleaning services.

Sunset Scholars
provides academic
tutoring and
homework assistance.

Trusty Amigos
provides dog walking
and pet care services.

United Handymen 
provides home repairs
and other handyman services.

Up and Go
is an online platform for booking coop services!

Coops Operating Independently: 



provides babysitting
and child care services.

We Can Do It!
provides housecleaning



Emigre Gourmet
provides catering and cooking lessons.

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Community Services

The mission of the Community Services program is to address the urgent needs of residents in Sunset Park who are experiencing an acute crisis. The Community Service Program acts as both a resource and a gateway to help enhance individual functioning, family stability and community building in Sunset Park. Access to all service components is open and eligibility determinations are minimal.

Community Services is an informal, accessible point of entry into the Center for Family Life’s comprehensive service system. As such, it provides a valuable first point of contact for many neighborhood residents who ultimately may choose to engage in other more “high intensity” services.

The Community Services program provides a variety of integrated supports and activities that are available to the community daily, year round and at no charge. Four primary services have been developed in direct response to the needs of the community:

Food Pantry: Distributes emergency 3-day supplies of groceries to individuals and families in order to help them through a time of crisis. This program receives referrals from more than 20 neighborhood churches and human service organizations, as well as from community members themselves.

Advocacy Clinic: Assists Sunset Park residents through the use of numerous supports, such as benefits counseling, translation services and referrals. Helps individuals and families access and use government services and resolve matters related to healthcare, housing, utilities, tax credits and immigration. The Clinic is also a registration location for the Fresh Air Fund.

Single Stop Program: Hosting multiple services which can be accessed in one location for customer convenience, Single Stop provides a familiar and comfortable environment where clients can receive professional consultation and support to address financial, legal and personal issues that they face, all at no cost.

Tax Filing: Provides free tax filing assistance to families with dependent children with incomes less than $40,000 per year, or individuals with incomes less than $20,000 per year, as well as back filing for Earned Income Tax Credit for families who were eligible for the benefit and did not file previously.

If you are looking for emergency food, or need help with a legal or financial problem, our Community Services program can help you. Please contact us at 718.492.3585.

Community Services
443 39th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232

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