NY City department of Probation officers in Queens and Brooklyn met with agency personnel in 1998 and requested that the agency develop a specialized program for hard to place juvenile offenders since many agencies refuse to work with this population. Martin de Porres remains as the only residential program located within the five boroughs of New York City that will work with this specialized population of hard to place youngsters. Martin de Porres has worked successfully with at-risk youngsters for over 39 years. Referrals now come not only from ACS Office of Placement, but also from probation officers, legal aid and private defense attorneys, the Corporation Counsel, and judges at the Family Courts. Martin de Porres Group Homes is known to all of the Family Courts as well as many community-based social service agencies throughout the City who have referred youngsters for placement.
In 2000, Martin de Porres Group Homes initiated the Martin de Porres Youth Hospitality and Enrichment Center, an after-school youth development program, academic, and a weekend sports program for the youth of Southeast Queens. The agency office is located in Springfield Gardens, Queens. Community youth are invited to attend these programs regardless of adjudication status or history, or special education status. The organization was the recipient of grants from NYS OCFS Advantage Afterschool Program to conduct these youth development afterschool programs.
In 2008, Martin de Porres became a Waiver Service Provider agency in the NYS Bridges to Health program to provide in-home wrap-around services to high risk youth in both the foster care system, and those being discharged from OCFS DJJOY State facilities. In order to provide these B2H services, Martin de Porres recruited over 30 part-time young men and women from the community to serve as mentors, skill builders and crisis workers for the B2H clients and families. Martin de Porres provided training for the B2H workers supplemented by OCFS training.
In 2011, after being awarded a 6-bed specialized residential program under the ACS Request for Proposals, Martin de Porres converted its Springfield Gardens AOBH to provide service for ACS custody teens.
On March 30, 2012 the Close to Home legislation was signed as part of the 2012-2013 New York State Budget. The passage of Close to Home paves the way for youth found to have committed a delinquent act to be placed by the New York City Family Court in or close to their communities in the City. Close to Home builds on the City’s legacy of juvenile justice reform, which includes reducing the use of detention and placement, increasing community-based alternatives and lowering recidivism rates, while making our City even safer. In accordance with the legislation, ACS has released our final plan for the placement of youth involved in juvenile justice in non-secure settings in or around New York City. The State Office of Children and Family Services approved the non-secure plan on July 5, 2012. MDPGH has been awarded 18 beds for the Close to Home initiative, for which two new residences were opened and the Elmhurst residence was converted to serve these youths.