Our Voice

When It Comes to Criminal Justice Reform, Why Aren’t We Mentioning Mothers?

mothers in prisonWith all the recent press surrounding criminal justice issues—including President Obama’s record number of sentence commutations and his substantial piece in Harvard Law Review about the need to replace a policy of ongoing punishment with a policy of second chances—where is the mention of incarcerated mothers? Barriers that prevent women from raising their children from prison and upon their release are having a profound impact on many communities and the nation as a whole; removing them should be at the top of any criminal justice agenda. Yet the issue receives nary a mention. Continue reading

Robert Cizma Heads Up New Child Center Program Area

Staff Spotlight:  Robert Cizma, Vice President of Health Homes and Integrated Care

Robert Cizma

“My philosophy has always been ‘it takes a village.’  We want to help families so they get to the point where they don’t need us.  In other words, we want to be that village.”

Robert Cizma is all about comprehensive services and wraparound treatment, having had the opportunities over his 30-year+ career to view client needs at every level.  His extensive experience in behavioral health services, as a line worker on up to his current position as Vice President of Health Homes and Integrated Care for The Child Center of NY, has provided him with a unique perspective. The new position, initiated with Robert’s hiring, creates a fifth program area for the agency.

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Obama’s Speech Was a Call to Support Social Impact Organizations

Obama FarewellPeople can’t stop talking about President Obama’s farewell address, which sure is saying something, because presidential farewells are typically regarded as snoozers. (President George W. Bush’s staff reportedly had to beg networks to air his.) There’s no question that part of the reason why Obama’s remarks were water cooler-caliber was because they were uncommonly eloquent (which they were), or because we’re having end-of-term nostalgia (which many people undoubtedly are), or because his tone was so strikingly dissimilar to the tone taken by his successor the next day. But I think the reason the speech resonated with so many people was because of its spot-on emphasis: Continue reading

Statement of Child Center CEO Traci Donnelly on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Enhanced Middle Class Child Care Credit Proposal

4workers_300x300“Last week, Governor Cuomo announced a new Enhanced Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit that will help more than 200,000 middle class families make their child care more affordable. For many of the nearly 22,000 children and families The Child Center of NY serves per year, limited access to low-cost programs can force parents to choose between providing safe, quality child care arrangements and work. Under the Governor’s proposal, middle class families earning between $50,000 and $150,000 would see their benefit double, on average from $169 to $376. Continue reading

A Message from Child Center CEO on the 2016 Presidential Election

election-dayMy son Drew came with me to vote on election morning with a sense of excitement and hope. The next morning he had so many questions about the outcome of the election. I shared the following perspective with him.

The truth is that we haven’t come as far as we think we have. Although we are facilitators of change, it appears that it is not as much, nor as systematic, as we may have hoped. There are still great divisions in our country, based more on race, background, and other such factors than we would ever have liked to admit.
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Child Center CEO Publishes Op-Ed in Crain’s NY Business

Government Shortchanges Nonprofits, Quashing Innovation

Traci croppedWhile recent coverage of the Clinton Foundation has focused on whether donors got special treatment, one thing that keeps being repeated as a saving grace is the foundation’s reputation for low administrative costs. “Overhead” is indeed a dirty word in the nonprofit world. This supposedly self-evident truth is why governments at every level have increasingly resorted to underfunding its contracts with social-impact organizations.

I’m making the heretical suggestion that, far from making charities more effective, efficient, and worthy, this practice is causing them to stagnate.

Read the full article in Crain’s NY Business.

What We’re Doing—and Should Be Doing—to Stop Bullying

bullying 1Last month, with the support of one of our Parsons Advisory Board Founders Marc Haken and NYC Councilman Rory Lancman, The Child Center of NY presented a free anti-bullying event at our Parsons Community School (CS) in Flushing. The event was the brainchild not of program officials or community leaders, but rather of middle-schoolers who serve on our Parsons CS’s Youth Council. They said their community needed it. Continue reading

The Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellowship: Facing Uncomfortable Facts to Fight Poverty

Annie E Casey photoIt is a great honor to be a part of The Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellowship, a results-oriented executive leadership development program that asks—and expects—fellows to make a major contribution to the broader population within 16 months. This class of fellows is made up of 16 community leaders who hail from all over the country and from various sectors including housing, juvenile justice, legal advocacy, child welfare, youth development, and more—serving the common goal of reducing poverty. In April, I had the pleasure of attending the first weeklong meeting of the fellows in Baltimore. I left confident that The Child Center of NY is well-poised to face the most pressing community issues head-on and reach real, meaningful solutions to the overarching problem of poverty.

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Statement Regarding Proposed Cuts to Funding for Summer Programs

Statement by Traci Donnelly, CEO and executive director of The Child Center of NY

Lynn Edmonds Queens Tribune

Photo by Lynn Edmonds/Queens Tribune. Councilman Rory Lancman and school children decried budget cuts to summer camps in Kew Gardens Hills on Monday.

We are disappointed to learn that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget proposal does not contain summer program funding for 31,000 middle school students. We strongly advocate for the restoration of this funding as soon as possible.

The Child Center of NY’s Summer Enrichment Camp at Parsons Community School is one of more than 400 sites throughout the City that would be affected by this cut. Without this program, upwards of 100 9-15-year-olds from some of the poorest neighborhoods will have nowhere to go during the summer months while parents who can’t afford other options work or attend school. To leave these children—and thousands like them—unsupervised, unchallenged, and without any sort of structure for two months straight benefits no one. If the mayor restores this funding, these children could spend the summer staying active, both physically and mentally, as programs like ours provide challenging learning opportunities, enrichment activities, and a sense of community. It is difficult to see how this would not be a good investment in the city’s present and future. We must prioritize all our children, and ensure equal learning opportunities for those who need them most.

We urge the mayor to fully restore this crucial funding and to do it soon. Last year, we received very late notice that our funding was restored. Although we applaud the Mayor’s office for ultimately restoring the funding, the late notice placed an undue burden on our families; it also adversely affected our program administrators and staff, as it gave them little time to hire and plan for an intensive summer camp, and many part-time staffers secured other summer employment because of the uncertainty. We hope the mayor will do the right thing and amend the executive budget to reflect restored funding to these programs in a timely manner.

Further Reading

Extended Day (afterschool) and Summer Learning Opportunities
Summer Programs Are Feeling the Heat, Queens Chronicle
Little-Noticed Funding Cut Highlights Existential Problem for Community Schools, Politico

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