HELP SOME WORKERS NEED AND DESERVE: Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza (left), pictured here during a 2018 contract announcement with Mayor de Blasio and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, hailed the restoration of an Employee Assistance Program for 170,000 Department of Education employees that will offer counseling for matters ranging from job-related stress to family troubles to substance abuse, calling it a way to reciprocate the help those workers give to ‘the students, staff and families’ in the public schools.
Mayor de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Labor Commissioner Renee Campion announced Feb. 21 that an Employee Assistance Program had been re-established for the Department of Education that would offer services to 170,000 employees, as well as their families.
The initiative nearly triples the size of the EAP that is overseen by OLR. DOE during the Koch administration had a program that languished after its longtime Director died in the late 1980s and eventually was eliminated during city budget-tightening a few years later.
Confidential Counseling
The citywide program offers confidential interviews to assess and evaluate the problems employees and/or their parents or children may be experiencing, and provides clinical counseling, referrals to treatment and support with alcohol and drug dependency. It also features worksite visits to employees who have been affected by a traumatic loss or on-the-job occurrence. Where needed, it will assist employees on matters ranging from child- and elder-care to domestic violence, sexual assaults, bullying, depression and sleep deprivation.
Mr. de Blasio said in a statement, “The employees who help over one million public-school kids reach their full potential every day deserve the city’s support.”
Mr. Carranza added, “Our employees give so much to the students, staff and families of New York City’s public schools, and this expansion allows us to increase the ways in which the city gives back.”
The OLR program, which has had a staff of 15, 14 of whom have master’s degrees in social work or mental health, will grow to 41 because of the DOE program restoration. Ms. Campion said in a phone interview that there had been significantly increased demand for assistance in 2019, when there were roughly 10,000 inquiries from employees in municipal agencies, compared to about 7,000 a year earlier.
‘More Willing to Seek Help’
“People are more and more willing to reach out and ask for help,” she said in explaining the boom in requests for counseling services.
There had previously been a greater demand for services based on specific incidents, such as a couple of suicides within a brief period of time by Department of Probation employees and concern among staff at Bellevue Hospital after a Physician there was diagnosed as having contracted the Ebola virus early in the de Blasio administration.
The United Federation of Teachers had a small program with a couple of counselors that was not going to be able to deal with the increased demand, Ms. Campion said. The DOE initiative will be open to school supervisors, building-services personnel and School Safety Agents as well as the Teachers, Guidance Counselors, School Secretaries, School Psychologists, School Nurses and paraprofessionals under the UFT banner. The program will have a first-year cost of $1.2 million that will subsequently be $2.1 million annually, Ms. Campion said.
To accommodate the increased staff, the citywide EAP program will move from its offices at 250 Broadway into OLR’s headquarters at 22 Cortlandt St., she said.
Separate ‘Uniformed’ Programs
Employee-assistance programs help workers struggling with problems ranging from substance abuse to stress both on the job and in their home lives. The city’s uniformed agencies have their own programs, many featuring peer intervention, Ms. Campion said, and the NYPD also has a confidential program, Police Officers Providing Peer Assistance (POPPA), that utilizes police officers and mental-health professionals to aid cops experiencing stress, anger and undue frustration.
District Council 37 has its own EAP program as well. The Housing Authority and NYC Health + Hospitals have programs independent of the OLR initiative, Ms. Campion said.
Through the 1980s, Director of NYC Employee Assistance Programs Kevin Bulger said, the Human Resources Administration also had an independent program, but it was among those that were disbanded, with their work taken on by OLR, about 25 years ago under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Ms. Campion and Mr. Bulger emphasized that the OLR program is open to all city employees and their family members, even if their agencies also offer EAPs.
Further information about the city EAP program can be obtained by calling 212-306-7660 or e-mailing

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