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Safe Space NYC, which aids kids, returns to its roots, moving its offices from Manhattan to Jamaica

Safe Space NYC, which aids kids, returns to its roots, moving its offices from Manhattan to Jamaica

New York Daily News 7/14/2010

By Daniel Edward Rosen

An agency committed to protecting Queens children from abuse and poverty is returning to its roots.

Safe Space NYC, a nonprofit group that provides counseling and treatment to at-risk youth and families, will be moving its administrative and financial departments from Manhattan to Jamaica.

The move this week to a building at 89-74 162nd St. will bring Safe Space back to the borough where it got its start in 1919 as the Queensboro Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

It will also allow the group to “focus all of the agency’s resources on such a needy community,” said President Christine Molnar.

“We really feel that we can have a much greater impact on the children and families we serve,” Molnar said of the renewed focus on southeast Queens.

The new 2,200-square-foot office will hold up to 100 employees, said spokesman Rob MacKay. The agency, which has an annual budget of roughly $14million and serves nearly 10,000 people a year, will still operate its satellite programs out of Far Rockaway and Richmond Hill, said MacKay. The agency expects to finish the move by Friday.

The consolidation comes at a time when neighborhoods in southeast Queens are struggling with crime and poverty. The juvenile crime rate in Far Rockaway is 15.2 per 1,000 young adults – 4.6higher than the Queens average, according to Safe Space and the city Administration for Children’s Services.

Unemployment rates in 2008 in Far Rockaway and Jamaica were 12.8% and 10.9%, respectively, far above the 7.7% for all of Queens.

“All of these statistics paint a portrait of a community in crisis, and it’s why we feel so strongly that our integrated set of services to stabilize families and help children to thrive are so critically important,” Molnar said.

Local officials applauded the timing of Safe Space’s move back to Queens.

“When there’s a recession, we get hit the hardest,” said City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), noting that cases of domestic violence, AIDS and poverty have all been on the rise in recent years.

“I always prefer to have the agency local and not have my constituents schlep all the way to Manhattan,” Comrie added.

The decision to relocate the headquarters back to Queens was spearheaded by the agency’s board of directors, said Molnar.

“The move back to Queens is incredibly important,” said Jason Lee, chairman of Safe Space’s board of directors. “I love the fact that we are investing in an under-invested community.”

Safe Space is planning a “homecoming” event on Sept. 13 to commemorate the opening of its new office.

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