Chances for Children NY

The mission of Chances for Children-NY (CFC) is to strengthen relationships between at-risk parents and their children, from birth to age five. We want to provide coping skills for parents and to prevent destructive interactions from interfering with the healthy development of both parent and child.


Give Children a Chance

Chances for Children–NY is a 501(c)(3) that provides free parent-child play therapy and play groups in three neighborhoods in the Bronx—Highbridge, Hunts Point and Kingsbridge.

Research indicates an urgent need for mental health services in low-income neighborhoods. Of particular concern is the lack of mental health services available for children ages zero to five. Research also shows that in the first three years of life critical brain development takes place that has profound significance for psychological health and successful lives. When a baby and a parent become closely attached and enjoy a secure relationship, the child develops important capabilities: self-mastery and the capacity to tolerate frustration. The child becomes curious about the world and ready to learn. The parent gains confidence and increased understanding of the child’s needs.

A composite story from the Chances for Children-NY program:

Ms. B was a 24-year-old mother of a nine-month-old son named Germain. The nurse at their pediatric clinic referred them to Chances for Children. Ms. B had described her son’s bouts of inconsolable crying and the stress these outbursts were causing in the family. Ms. B and Germain were living with the baby’s paternal grandmother while his father worked out of state at a construction job to save money for their future together; Ms. B worked at the local supermarket while Germain’s grandmother babysat. Ms. B described the deepening animosity between her and her son’s grandmother as they negotiated both the tight quarters of their two-room apartment and their significant differences of opinion regarding child rearing. Neither, however, could make sense of the baby’s increasingly frequent crying for what appeared to them to be “no reason at all.” Both were frustrated, angry, anxious, and stressed.

Using video recordings of typical interactions, therapist and mother were able to tease out clues to the baby’s behavior. There was a striking moment when the therapist reached over the baby to hand Ms. B a toy that had rolled out of sight. The baby flinched and began shrieking. Closer observation yielded repeated tiny moments when the child startled or froze and began crying. Over time Ms. B was able to share her story and understand that the baby had become terrified when the grandmother in a rage shouted, shoved, and slapped Ms. B while the younger woman held the boy. Understanding the effect these repeated incidents had on her child empowered this young mother to find safe shelter for her and her child and use treatment to strengthen her own coping strategies to protect her child and help him heal.

Many adverse circumstances, such as violence, isolation, and poverty, can interfere with the creation of positive relationships between parents and children. Positive relationships between parents and children are a robust predictor of child wellbeing and future resilience. Research reveals that appropriate support services can help struggling families create these positive relationships. Chances for Children-NY has created an evidence-based program to transform that research into a course of treatment that enables and strengthens attachment between parents and children. Using a video-feedback technique, Chances for Children-NY works with parents to build on positive moments in their relationships with their children. These moments then become the foundation for stronger relationships that help children develop and help foster healthier families.