Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On Thursday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and state Sen. Daniel Squadron unveiled a report authored by their Early Childhood Development Task Force that showcases statistical evidence for a greater financial investment in early childhood development, in particular on growth between ages birth and 3 years. According to the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP), it was estimated that there were 161,571 children ages birth to 3 years in Brooklyn as of 2010. Standing with toddlers and teachers at Magical Years Early Childhood Development Center in Sunset Park, a nationally accredited child care facility providing full-day, year-round support for families, they detailed the importance of early life intervention on school readiness, emotional and social development, family health, economic growth and public safety.
“To end the tale of two cities, we need to start at the very beginning,” said Adams. “The critical first moments of life are where the lasting rifts between the haves and the have nots already begin. New York City has made great strides in enrolling children in pre-K, but to ensure the success of that program, we need to engage mothers before they give birth and through the formative years. Our report highlights the importance of early childhood services, and the positive impact in children’s lives, as a way to ensure that we are supporting our families from cradle to college and career.”
“Investing in the early childhood years is the best possible investment for our future — for families and the whole state,” said Squadron. “We know evidence-based programs like maternal home-visiting, including Nurse-Family Partnership work, and I’m proud to stand with Borough President Adams, advocates and organizations across the city to urge more investment in and support for these critical programs.”
Adams and Squadron’s report, which can be accessed at brooklyn-usa.org, emphasizes the importance of a child’s earliest days in their brain development, which can have direct impacts on their life through adulthood. Social and emotional interactions are also critical, with negative exposure creating a greater risk for cognitive impairment as well as adult conditions such as cardiovascular disease, depression and obesity. Early childhood development programs such as center-based quality child care, Head Start and early intervention have shown positive outcomes for children and their families. In addition, maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting also provide expectant and new parents with the tools they need to care for and educate them.
Overall, findings concluded that children engaged in early childhood development services show a reduction in language delays, increased readiness for pre-K and kindergarten and increased test scores in grade school; conversely, at-risk youth without high-quality early childhood experiences are more likely to drop out of school and become teenage parents, while also less likely to attend college, according to the report. Early childhood development programs were also linked to a decreased involvement in the criminal justice system and to significant increases in a mother’s employment rate and income.
The Early Childhood Development Task Force, co-chaired by Adams and Squadron, made up of evidence-based practitioners as well as advocates, community stakeholders and local hospitals, was formed in September 2015 with a focus on policies that address family risk factors for adversity that can impair early childhood development, such as illiteracy, mental illness and poverty.
Adams and Squadron’s task force released a series of recommendations as a result of their work. They called for increased support for evidence-based early childhood development programs, including funding increases recommended by the New York state Senate Democratic Policy Group as well as strategic partnerships with the New York City Children’s Cabinet to coordinate and integrate services in order to provide a continuum of care. Their report recommended expanding access to evidence-based early childhood development programs by empowering communities through increased information. To achieve this, the task force has committed to create and disseminate a resource guide of early childhood services available in Brooklyn; additionally, they suggested the city and state create online maps providing data on early childhood programs, including seat availability. Finally, the Early Childhood Development Task Force advocated for partnerships with community-based organizations and networks to increase awareness about the importance of early childhood programs and services. Adams and Squadron will convene a workshop specifically for Brooklyn clergy members to engage and educate leaders so they may circulate information throughout their congregations. Additionally, they encouraged the Brooklyn Public Library to create lending institutions for books, educational materials, puzzles and toys for early childhood development programs.