Elected officials discuss early childhood development at Sunset Park

February 9, 2017 Jaime DeJesus
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It’s never too early to learn.

Borough President Eric Adams, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Research Director for the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) Cesar Zuniga, and others spoke and interacted with the children at Sunset Park’s Magical Years Early Childhood Development Center, 230 60th Street, a child care facility that provides full day support for families, at a Thursday, February 2 event that focused on encouraging early childhood development.

At the event, the speakers unveiled a report by the Early Children Development Task Force, which is co-chaired by Adams and Squadron and was formed in 2015. It addresses family risk factors that can impair early childhood development, such as illiteracy, mental illness and poverty.

“This is more than just having a child in an environment where they receive social interaction. For many of our children for whom English is a second language, their families need the support on how to get access to the other resources that are available,” said Adams. “We could not have picked a better place than here at Magical Years because it is the symphony of voices and sounds of the children that we seem to have a disconnect with.”

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“I wake up and go to sleep thinking about early childhood,” added Squadron. “It’s because I know from my time as chair of the Senate Social Services Committee, talking with service providers and reading all of the research available, that while there is nothing magic about what it takes in the early years, those early years truly are magical in the impact they have in changing a life. If we start before a child is born, working with parents until the child is five or six years old, that child’s path in life has been magically redirected at a lower cost than you can do at any point in any other person’s life.”

According to Adams’s office, the task force’s report reviewed the effectiveness of four research-based home visiting programs operating in New York State, including Healthy Families New York (HFNY), Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), Parents-as-Teachers (PAT) and the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP). Overall, findings concluded that children receiving early childhood development services show a reduction in language delays, increased readiness for pre-K and kindergarten, and increased test scores in grade school.

“In a time when things are uncertain and it feels like our federal government has gotten crazy, it’s important for us to focus on what we’re doing here today,” said Zuniga. “The crazies in Washington will come and go, but these children still need to be taken care of, and if we take our eyes off the prize, which is the future, then we’re really putting a lot of things in jeopardy.”

Norma Villanueva, MD, network chief of child and adolescent medicine at the NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers, emphasized the significance of the program. “I feel strongly about early development because I know it makes a great difference in people’s lives,” she said. “Our world here is poverty-stricken and parents don’t have all of the tools to help their children, so we try to provide that here.”

For the full report authored by the Early Childhood Development Task Force, visit www.brooklyn-usa.org.


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