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

Presented by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School in collaboration with the Child Care and Early Education Fund

With the creation of EarlyLearnNYC in 2012, New York City reinvented its system for subsidized early care and education for children from low-income families. Officials sought to ensure high quality, developmentally smart care--but a string of financial and logistical hurdles posed difficulties for many of the nonprofit organizations that run these programs. Today, some thrive while others have lost their contracts or struggle to remain open. Now, as the city launches an expanded Pre-K network for 4-year-olds, what will happen to subsidized child care for younger kids? Can the reform vision of EarlyLearn be put fully into action, and sustained? A conversation with experts in the field, and the release of findings from a new Center for New York City Affairs report on early care and education.


  • Steve Barnett,director, National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University
  • Maria Benejan, associate commissioner, Division of Early Care and Education at New York City Administration for Children's Services
  • Takiema Bunche-Smith, education director, Brooklyn Kindergarten Society
  • Gregory Brender, policy analyst, United Neighborhood Houses 
  • Maria Contreras-Collier, executive director, Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation


  • Abigail Kramer, associate editor, Center for New York City Affairs

Click here for Participant Bios.

Access and download the Executive Summary, Findings and Recommendations.

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Youth Justice, Police and NYC’s Neighborhoods

Center for New York City Affairs at The New School presentsa Child Welfare Watch forumCo-sponsored by the New York Juvenile Justice Initiative


There’s been a sea change in New York City juvenile justice policy and police practices over the last two years: Courts now place most teen delinquents in city programs close to home, rather than upstate; and police have sharply reduced the use of stop and frisk, a tactic that overwhelmingly targeted young men of color. Policymakers in the new administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio seek to drive change even further, to improve police-community relations and strengthen juvenile justice programs while also securing public safety. How does the administration intend to pursue its objectives? What do community leaders and others believe needs to change? Will young people and community residents gain a meaningful voice in both policy and practice? And can better data collection and data sharing help shape new solutions, both inside and outside the walls of government?

A conversation with:

  • Gladys Carrion, commissioner, NYC Administration for Children's Services
  • Joanne Jaffe, bureau chief, New York Police Department
  • Chino Hardin, field trainer/organizer, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
  • Gabrielle Prisco, director, Juvenile Justice Project, Correctional Association of New York
  • Chris Watler, project director, Harlem Community Justice Center at Center for Court Innovation

Moderated by:

  • Andrew White, director, Center for New York City Affairs, The New School

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This forum is made possible thanks to the generous support of The Prospect Hill Foundation and the Sirus Fund.  Additional funding for the Child Welfare Watch project is provided by the Child Welfare Fund, the Ira W. DeCamp Foundation and the Booth Ferris Foundation.

Brushes with the Law: Young New Yorkers, Neighborhoods and the Criminal Justice System

The city has overhauled its juvenile justice system to keep more young people out of confinement and in their communities. In the process, officials, organizers and providers also aim to strengthen families and neighborhoods. How can city government engage communities and tap into the strengths of local groups that work with teens and families?

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NYC 1972-2012: Forty years of change and continuity

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The New School’s graduate program in Urban Policy Analysis and Management, scholars and policymakers discuss our city's evolution since the early 1970s. Neighborhoods have been revived and rebuilt, migrations have transformed the five boroughs, local government has gone from the edge of insolvency to a steadier state. Yet the New York of 1972 is strikingly similar to the city of today.

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The Economy vs. Immigration: What will unlock the Latino vote in 2012?

Latino voters are expected to play a pivotal role in the presidential election, just as they did in 2008. This town hall event will explore the tensions in the complex relationship that has evolved between the Latino electorate and the presidential candidates. Will economic concerns such as unemployment and housing foreclosures guide at the voting booth? Will the candidates' immigration policies dominate?

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Community-Based Planning: The Future of Development in New York

For decades, deliberations over land use in New York City have included developers, community boards, elected officials, and city agencies such as the Department of City Planning. Do the people who live and work in city neighborhoods have a sufficient voice? Do residents improve the process or impede progress? Who is best positioned to determine a neighborhood’s needs, and what are the best structures for public participation?

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Foster Teens in Transition: Are they better off today?

For years, rates of homelessness among the city’s former foster youth have remained stubbornly high. The city is connecting more teens to families, keeping more of them out of foster care in the first place, and developing new programs for pregnant and parenting foster teens. But for those remaining in foster and group homes, resources are being cut.

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The "Just" City: Equality, Social Justice and the Growing City

Mayors and city governments want to promote economic growth to fill coffers, pay for services and raise incomes. But what about growth that corrects social injustices like persistent inequality, racial and ethnic segregation? Can growth instead be harnessed to support equality, diversity and a higher quality of life for everyone? Harvard Professor Susan Fainstein speaks about her new book, The Just City.

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Regional Solutions to Segregation and Racial Inequity: Can Metro Areas Overcome Inequality?

Suburban growth and development away from central cities have increased segregation and racial inequalities in the U.S. Using the Twin Cities region as a lens, Orfield shows why policy makers must shift from neighborhood-level responses and develop regional solutions that promote equity and integration for housing, jobs, and schools.

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Crime, Justice and the Economic Crisis

Like New York, most states face deepening budget gaps and are slashing education and human services. Nationwide, states pour $50 billion a year into incarceration. New York led the way in expanding its prison system more than 25 years ago; should it lead the way in the other direction today? Will the federal government take a new approach to criminal justice in an Obama administration?

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Cities Respond to Climate Change: The Challenge of Energy Efficiency

America’s cities are confronting growing populations, a changing climate and rising fuel prices. While political leaders debate the development of alternative energy sources, most experts agree energy efficiency is fundamental to the urban future. Can cities combat global warming and the high cost of power with less wasteful infrastructure and other strategies?

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More Voices, More Choices: Expanding Community Participation and Employment Opportunities

Despite popular rhetoric and policy initiatives in support of consumer-friendly services and greater individual choice, many city residents with developmental disabilities still struggle with unemployment, segregation and services tailored to the broad-brush needs of the population, not to individual people. Will the latest state efforts to encourage person-centered planning open up valuable new alternatives?

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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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Averting Crisis: Community Strategies for Supporting Families and Preventing Homelessness

The Bloomberg administration has invested new dollars and creativity in preventing family homelessness. As the number of families in shelter begins to drop, what more can New York do to help families stay in their homes and out of crisis? In a new report, the Center for NYC Affairs proposes the city unify its many family support programs to institutionalize a neighborhood-based safety net.

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Workforce for Hire - Day Labor in New York City

Every morning, hundreds of recent immigrants converge on street corners throughout the city in search of work. The jobs can be dangerous, but the pay is not bad, and most laborers earn enough to support families back home. Who are New York's day laborers? What are their working conditions? Is New York unique?

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