Our Voice

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

NYC Takes Action on Mental Health Care

clasped-hands-541849_1920We seem to talk about mental health only following a massive tragedy, like the community shootings we’ve all grown too accustomed to seeing—and even then, we only talk about it for a day or so. And doesn’t it seem like you never hear about any changes following the media frenzy about behavioral health needs? Yet for all this silence, around one in five Americans experiences a mental health problem in a given year. That’s a big number—more than 43 million people.

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Staff Spotlight: Chuck Caputo

Associate Executive Director for Behavioral Health Services


staff-chuck-caputo

Q What brought you to The Child Center of NY?

A: My previous experiences have been in behavioral health, quality improvement, and services to children and families (including foster care and adoption). Most recently, I was at another organization overseeing outpatient clinics, mobile crisis, PROS [Personalized Recovery Oriented Services], and home visiting services, where I used data and metrics to help ensure that we were meeting financial and quality outcome expectations. I was attracted to being presented an opportunity to do some of that same type of work here at The Child Center. And as a longtime advocate for children and families, I was particularly drawn to the mission and the amazing work that The Child Center accomplishes throughout Queens.
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The MYLC: Time to Help Youth Put Idealism and Anger into Action

mylc-main-poster-final-1From Occupy Wall Street to the Black Lives Matter protests, it’s clear that today’s youth are demanding change. Less clear are the avenues young people can take to make a tangible difference on the issues they care so much about. That’s why The Child Center of NY is excited to partner with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and the Youth Development Institute on a new initiative called the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council. The MYLC will enable teens throughout the five boroughs to work on a specific policy change and present a plan to the mayor. It’s a unique opportunity for youth from all types of backgrounds to learn to put their idealism into action.

Twenty young people will be chosen to serve on the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council, but, as Tracy Garcia, DYCD ‎Director of Service Learning Programs, puts it, “We’re not only involving the most articulate youth in their high schools or most active youth in student government.” Continue reading

Encourage Diversity in STEM by Teaching It Right

STEM boy

New York City’s public school students return to school today. While their parents have spent the weekend stocking their kids’ backpacks with new pencil cases and notebooks, let’s hope their teachers have stocked their classrooms with toothpicks, cork, coins, and other everyday materials. The reason is simple: These materials can be used in hands-on experiments that encourage trial and error and the application of complex concepts. That’s the right way to teach STEM to tomorrow’s leaders, and it needs to be an integral part of schools and after-school programs—especially those that primarily serve minorities, low-income students, and other groups typically underrepresented in STEM fields.

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