Baby Steps: Poverty, Chronic Stress & New York's Youngest Children

Chronic stress and early trauma shape the brain development of very young children. Increasingly, research shows that innovative, early-life work with infants, toddlers and their parents can help prevent the need for much more costly interventions later on. Can we reduce the likelihood of abuse, neglect and mental illness in stressed-out, low-income families?

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Immigrant Electoral Power: The Changing Face of Leadership in NYC

New York City today has four Asian American elected officials, a far cry from only a decade ago. Although the city has numerous Latino legislators, it has yet to elect a Latino citywide or statewide official. As new generations of immigrants emerge and their children grow up, is New York's political character changing? Can new communities gain influence in government and society and help reshape our political leadership?

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School Food Matters: Hunger, Obesity and Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act

According to advocates, families of at least 1 in 5 New York City children still rely on soup kitchens and food pantries, despite free school breakfast and subsidized school lunches. President Obama pledged to end child hunger in the US by 2015, and the reauthorization of the federal Child Nutrition Act is expected by September.

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A Transformative Moment? New York's New Vision for Juvenile Justice

Major changes are afoot in juvenile justice. Governor Paterson recently proposed long-awaited reforms for upstate facilities where young teens are incarcerated. But he also proposed large cuts to alternative-to-detention and diversion programs. Meanwhile, the Bloomberg administration has merged the city’s juvenile justice agency with children’s services, potentially accelerating expansion of community- and family-centered services for juvenile delinquents and other young people.

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A Need for Correction: Reforming New York’s Juvenile Justice System

The federal Department of Justice has threatened to take over the state’s juvenile justice system because of incidents of staff violence and inadequate psychiatric care for mentally ill children in custody. Will the state and city improve mental health services and conditions of confinement for juvenile delinquents? Child Welfare Watch released its latest report, examining alternatives to incarceration.

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The Obama Agenda: Overcoming Poverty in New York and the Nation

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Obama administration’s 2010 budget plan include resources and tools for large-scale job creation, increased benefits for low-income and unemployed people, refundable tax credits, and the prospect of new flexible funds for child and family services. What is Washington offering the states, and how will New York respond?

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Homes Away From Home: The Changing Face of Foster Care

New York City’s foster care system has made headway in finding family homes for young people who once would have lived in group homes and residential treatment centers. But city officials and nonprofit leaders face tremendous challenges in creating effective support systems, crisis teams and training programs that can help foster parents care for these children.

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Pressures and Possibilities: Family Support, Foster Care and the Future of a Billion-Dollar System

The Bloomberg administration is mounting an all-out campaign to reduce the length of time children spend in foster care and to make preventive and post-reunification supports for families more effective. Few disagree with these goals. But in a child welfare system managed by nonprofits, the city must use its power over contracts to drive change. It’s an enormous and controversial challenge.

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From the Margins to the Mainstream: Responding to Rising Rates of Autism

A fast-growing number of people receiving government-funded developmental disabilities services in New York are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. And in city schools, the number of pupils with autism has increased 72 percent in only five years. How are government, service providers, schools and parents responding?

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Opening the Schoolyard Gates: Reclaiming Urban Community Space

As part of PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed opening 290 city schoolyards to the public during non-school hours. Reclaiming urban community space can strengthen families and neighborhoods, but it's never as easy as "throwing open the gates." What should the city do to ensure that these spaces benefit communities, families, and children?

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Is there Order in Family Court? A Child Welfare Watch Forum.

New York's Family Court ensures neither fair representation nor timely decisions in cases involving the most cherished and personal aspect of our lives, the relationships between parents and their children. This winter, new state legislative mandates, the impact of the Nixzmary Brown case and new initiatives at the city's Administration for Children's Services have converged to put new pressures on this overstressed institution.

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Promises I Can Keep: Poor Women, Motherhood and Marriage

The stereotypes and statistics of single motherhood in low-income urban neighborhoods are familiar enough. But what is the reality of these young women's lives, and why do so many postpone marriage – or avoid it altogether – but not childbearing? Kathryn Edin, co-author of Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage, joins us to discuss her book.

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Taking Care of New York's Children (II): The Future of Out of School Time

The Bloomberg administration has overhauled its after school policies, consolidating all out of school time programs under the Department of Youth and Community Development and bringing new providers into the mix. The city aims to save money, expand services and improve access in underserved communities.

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Taking Care of New York’s Children (I): Rethinking Child Care

Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Administration for Children's Services have announced a broad expansion and realignment of child care and early education programs. The new system aims to pull together disparate parts, simplify enrollment, improve accountability-and eventually increase dramatically the number of children taking part.

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