Children and Families

JULY 2014

Big Dreams for New York City's Youngest Children:
The future of early care and education


In October 2012, New York City launched EarlyLearnNYC, a plan that would upend its system for providing subsidized child care to working class and low-income families. The goal was to take the city's sprawling assortment of child care programs -- ranging from subsidized babysitting services to nationally accredited preschools -- and blend them into a unified, holistic spectrum of early education services for children from 6 weeks through 4 years old. Two years in, the results are mixed. This report tells the story of EarlyLearn's rocky implementation, examining its impact on programs, families and children. Drawing on dozens of interviews and program observations, it provides a series of recommendations to help the city achieve its vision of reform.

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october 2008

Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families:
Community Strategies to Reverse Chronic Absenteeism in the Early Grades and Improve Supports for Children and Families


Last year, more than 90,000 children in grades K through 5 (more than 20 percent of enrollment) missed at least one month of school. In high poverty neighborhoods, the number was far higher, approaching one-third of primary grade students. The implication for these students' long-term success is enormous, but this is only part of the story. This report also describes how chronic absenteeism at an early age can result from problems at home, and how strong partnerships between public schools, community organizations and other institutions can make a difference.

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june 2007

A Schoolyard in Brooklyn:
Strengthening Families and Communities Through the Innovative Use of Public Space

By John Kixmiller, with Andrew White and Rob Fischer

As part of PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Bloomberg proposed opening 290 city schoolyards to the public during non-school hours. A Schoolyard in Brooklyn offers a proven model for how to do it right, strengthening families and communities along the way. The report tells the story of the schoolyard at P.S. 503/506 (formerly P.S. 314) in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, that became a community plaza with activities for all ages. Now known as Neighborhood Center, it offers an affordable and proven model for reclaiming urban community space and many of the city's poorly used schoolyards and parks.

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january 2007

"There's No Such Place":
The Family Assessment Program, PINS and the Limits of Support Services for Families with Teens in New York City

by Sharon Lerner with Barbara Solow

Recent reforms in New York City's system for handling troubled teens have helped more vulnerable young people avoid long hours in Family Court and prolonged stints in foster care, where their problems frequently worsened. But there are signs that the new Family Assessment Program hasn't yet had a substantial impact on the larger problems facing many urban teens and their families—problems that are often inseparable from the poverty and violence in their communities.

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june 2005

Spanning the Neighborhood:
The Bridge Between Housing and Supports for Families

By Andrew White, Kim Nauer, Sharon Lerner and Beth Glenn

New York City has begun to reshape and expand its services to prevent family homelessness in a more comprehensive and coordinated way than ever before. But much more could be done. This report proposes a substantial new effort to root homelessness prevention in neighborhood-based safety net programs run by well-known, trusted community organizations.

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march 2005

Community Collaboration in New York City:
Charting the Course for a Neighborhood-Based Safety Net

By Andrew White, Sharon Lerner and others

As "prevention" has become the mantra of New York City social policy, from child welfare to family homelessness and beyond, city officials and nonprofit leaders have pursued new strategies to achieve the old objective of building a more efficient, integrated and collaborative safety net for families. This report explores why integrated services matter at the community level and assesses the successes and lessons learned from the Administration for Children's Services Neighborhood Networks project.

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april 2004

New Country, New Perils:
Immigrant Child and Family Health in NYC

by Sharon Lerner, Mia Lipsit, Hilary Russ and Beth Glenn

This report highlights current research on immigrant children's health, examining several key aspects such as health insurance, environmental health, obesity and mental health. The authors explain why immigrant children and children of immigrants face special challenges in those areas.

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january 2004

Hardship in Many Languages:
Immigrant Families and Children in NYC

By Andrew White, Sharon Lerner, Mia Lipsit and Coco McPherson

This report highlights current research on immigrant families and poverty, examines several key aspects of the social support sector—food stamps, child care, neighborhood family services and other programs—and explains how publicly funded programs have been slow to adapt to serving New York's newcomers.

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september 2003

Newcomers Left Behind:
Immigrant Parents Lack Equal Access to New York City's Schools

Edited by Andrew White and Kim Nauer

In a city of immigrants, language and cultural barriers inevitably prevent some people from participating fully in civic life. Yet when it comes to education, parent involvement is widely recognized as a fundamental component of a child's success. Acknowledging this, public school policymakers have established guidelines intended to overcome the problems that differences in language and culture pose for New York's immigrant parents so that they may participate more actively in their children's educational life. This report discusses findings from a survey of, and interviews with, immigrants from around New York City conducted between the summer of 2002 and the spring of 2003. We found that the policies and procedures meant to address the special needs of immigrant students—and particularly English Language Learners—and their parents are in many cases either unknown to or not being carried out by school staff.

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About This Project

The Center for New York City Affairs combines applied policy research with journalism, coalition building and public dialogue in order to improve the effectiveness of government and nonprofits in their work with families and children. Our publications and working papers explore how government policies affect people in their daily lives. We learn lessons on the ground, in communities, and then strive to translate them into widespread innovations in policy and practice.