What We Do

Esperanza began its work in 2002 to address New York City’s reliance on out of home placement for adolescents with delinquency cases in Family Court. Our city’s young people- disproportionately children of color from lower income communities- were being placed far away from their families and communities. Since that time, Esperanza has expanded its work to include same-aged youth who are prosecuted as adults in Supreme/Criminal Court. Over the years that Esperanza has been operating, New York City has worked to reduce incarceration and improve community safety tough a variety of initiatives in both Family and Supreme Court.

Throughout these decades of structural reform, Esperanza has worked with justice system stakeholders to provide an approach to reducing the use of placement, detention and prison that is responsive to critical issues like racial equity and social justice, trauma and mental health. Youth who become involved in the justice system are more likely than their peers to have been exposed to not just one or two traumatic stressors, but multiple types of traumatic victimization. These are not just incidents, but types of adverse stressors (e.g. physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, community violence, life-threatening neglect) that impact youth before they first come to the attention of law enforcement. The brain and nervous system are altered by poly-victimization in childhood in ways that increase stress reactivity, anger, and impulsivity while reducing the youth’s ability to self-regulate. When we began Esperanza in 2002, many of the most traumatized young people would not have been given the opportunity to receive community-based services. However given the increased understanding of adolescent behaviors, the bar has been raised on who will be immediately placed or incarcerated and we have worked with more deeply-system involved young people who often have greater trauma histories. As such, Esperanza clinicians receive targeted training in attachment focused, trauma informed treatment that is necessary to provide best practice services and obtain the best outcomes for our clients.

Esperanza’s approach is designed to enhance families’ strengths and encourage communication among young people and their caregivers. We believe every young person is unique and we personalize our services for each individual participant. We strive to help young people learn to make better decisions, as well as to utilize the support and guidance of positive adults as their own capacity for decision making develops. Esperanza’s services are designed to work with caregivers to guide, support and supervise their children more effectively. We strive to overcome access issues by delivering services in the home and community.

The services we provide include the following:

  • Up to 6 months of individual and family therapy for each young person, as well as for their caregiver(s) and other family members. Sessions occur twice a week for most of the program, with phone contact in between as needed;
  • Assessment, case management, and crisis intervention;
  • Assistance to caregivers to develop and implement a comprehensive behavior management plan;
  • Educational and vocational planning;
  • Coordination with the schools and community-based organizations our young people attend;
  • Curfew monitoring;
  • Responding to crises as they arise - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week;
  • Services that are tailored to the unique needs of each young person and his or her caregiver(s).

Frequently Asked Questions

From family courts, youth may receive Esperanza services as part of their disposition (sentence); from adult courts, youth may enter the program at various points, such as a condition of release from detention, as part of a plea promise, or at any point during the pendency of a case. As soon as a young person is enrolled into Esperanza, home-based services begin.

Esperanza is a short-term intensive intervention. The program lasts up to six months and may be followed by a continuing period of probation

Esperanza provides home-based counseling. Esperanza’s counselor will travel to the family’s home and sessions will take place there. The counseling sessions occur on days and during times that are convenient for the parents/caregivers of our clients. There are a required number of sessions per week, but the sessions will be scheduled around the family’s availability. Please note that during the COVID-19 pandemic there have been a combination of in-person and remote sessions and all safety guidelines have been followed.

Esperanza’s clients attend schools within the NYC community. Esperanza does not operate a school. However, we have an Education Specialist who works with our therapists and our participants to identify an appropriate school and to arrange for additional services, such as tutoring, when necessary. As many of our young people are overaged and undercredited, we explore all options that they are interested in including traditional high school settings, credit recovery programs, High School Equivalency programs and vocational training programs to ensure that each participant lands in a setting that works for them.

Esperanza provides individual counseling with the youth; individual counseling with the parent/caregiver; and family counseling with the youth, parent/caregiver, and other involved family members. The combination of therapies may change depending on the individual dynamics in a given family.

If enrolled through family court as part of their disposition/sentence, your child will be required to meet with a Probation Officer. If enrolled through adult court, your child may be required to meet with a Probation Officer during or after their participation in Esperanza, depending on their ultimate sentence.

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