Caring For Our Children
Caring For Our Children
As Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, I oversee one of the largest publicly funded early care and education systems in the country, serving approximately 100,000 infants, toddlers, pre-school and schoolaged children. I see firsthand the dramatic impacts quality early education has on the development of intellectual, social and emotional skills for all children. Through our EarlyLearn NYC program, ACS provides services that support healthy child development and assist low-income working families, eligible public assistance recipients and families that are receiving child welfare services.
When I started as commissioner of ACS, one of my goals was to enhance the agency’s ability to be a helping agency, one which exists to make a difference in the lives of children and families. Our early care and education programs provide immeasurable support to not just children, but also their families. Quality child care provides more than just babysitting.
The holistic services provided through EarlyLearn NYC are especially important for children coming from highly stressed environments. Instituting strong developmental and emotional screening, skills and supports can help children mitigate the terrible impact of toxic stress.
It should be noted, especially in a year that has included an unprecedented pre-kindergarten expansion, that children who have the opportunity to participate in quality early childhood education are less likely to be held back in school, and are more likely to graduate from high school, which can ultimately improve their socioeconomic mobility and allow them to realize future success. The benefits of our early care programs also extend to families. In particular, EarlyLearn NYC programs provide care 8-10 hours a day, 12 months of the year to meet the needs of working families. Programs are culturally responsive and many feature wraparound medical and dental services for families.
We want to ensure that families throughout the five boroughs are aware that safe, clean and nurturing settings with experienced, certified, and caring teachers are available for their children. And to do that, ACS is collaborating with our partner city agencies to initiate a series of outreach efforts to inform parents of the available comprehensive and quality EarlyLearn NYC options for their children—especially families who are particularly vulnerable. This includes working with Department of Homeless Services to conduct intensive outreach to enroll children who reside in homeless shelters and place them at the closest and most convenient EarlyLearn NYC centers, helping to facilitate the matching of child welfare system involved children to vacant EarlyLearn NYC seats, and partnering with the Department of Education as part of citywide Pre-K for All recruitment fairs. Additionally, ACS will host a series of recruitment fairs, including the launch- ing of “pop-up” pre-K recruitment fairs across the city—with the goal of helping parents understand their options in choosing the best option for them and their child.
As demographics in the city shift, we fully realize that our services must also shift to meet the new reality. To address this, ACS is planning to conduct an updated community needs analysis to ensure that our seats are located where the need for subsidized care is greatest. We remain cognizant that pockets of poverty persist in otherwise affluent neighborhoods and that the cost of real estate continues to skyrocket. Our aim is to create an approach that is as nuanced as possible in our analysis of the needs for subsidized care.
At ACS, we remain committed to laying a foundation for a stronger, more sustainable early care and education system. We know there is always room to do better, but I am confident that working together with providers, agencies and other stakeholders, we can continue to make improvements to the system. Ultimately, we must continue the work of stimulating young minds as early as possible, especially for children living in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.