News & Resources

News and Resources

Advocates Applaud NYC's UPK and After School Plan

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Advocates applauded Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to expand full-day Universal Pre-Kindergarten and afterschool programs for middle school students, as well as the end to NYC's yearly "budget dance", during City Council budget hearings yesterday.  However, representatives of The Campaign for Children, a coalition of over 150 New York City provider and advocacy organizations, also citing a number of critical concerns which could threaten early childhood and after-school programs unless addressed quickly.  Among their concerns are funding rate discrepancies between Out of School Time programs supported by different funding streams, missing summer program allocations in the FY2015 budget and expiring one-year contracts in need of extensions.  The group also cited its Campaign for Children Transition Plan as a roadmap for developing a high-quality, universal system of early childhood and after-school programs.

“We are greatly encouraged by the growing recognition of the importance of after-school," said Gregory Brender of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH). "UNH strongly supports New York City’s plan to expand after-school programs for middle school students through a modest, targeted tax increase.   Many young people and parents from UNH member agencies have visited Albany, made phone calls and organized in their communities to support New York City’s plan.  We are thrilled that many members of the City Council have been lobbying for the plan and that the resolution supporting New York City’s plan passed with an overwhelming margin.  

Read the full article here! 

Gregory Brender Discusses UPK on BronxTalk

Monday, March 03, 2014
UNH Policy Analyst Gregory Brender was a guest on BronxTalk to discuss Universal Pre-K in New York City. Click here to watch the broadcast!

Will Lawmakers Approve Funds for Summer Jobs?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Even though an increase in the minimum wage is a good thing for hard working families, it also means now we need even more money to keep the same amount of jobs," says Kevin Douglas, a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses and co-chair of the Campaign for Summer Jobs. "If we don’t get additional funding, there will be about 2,750 fewer jobs for teens."

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On January 28, Douglas and other advocates went to Albany with 250 teens to try to convince state legislators to approve a $35 million budget for SYEP, which would enable the program to employ the same number of youth as it did last year. The teens told legislators how having SYEP jobs in years past had helped them earn money for things like college applications and got them the work experience they needed to be hired elsewhere.

Read the full article here! 

The Daunting Logistics of the Pre-K Plan

Friday, February 07, 2014
UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein comments on the need for Universal Pre-K in New York City's communities and addresses some of the logistical challenges to implementing the Mayor's plan. 

“There’s hardly any community you go in that doesn’t have a big need for pre-K,” said Nancy Wackstein, the executive director of United Neighborhood Houses, a coalition of 38 community organizations, many of which currently provide pre-K and are willing to increase their capacity under the mayor’s plan. "What it will require is all the city agencies pulling together to make it happen, and to expand in many cases. We in the nonprofit sector are sometimes the victim of slow city processes.”

Read more here>>

Annetta Seecharran Discusses NYC's Nonprofit Infrastructure on BronxTalk

Monday, December 16, 2013
 Annetta Seecharran, UNH Director of Policy and Advocacy, was a guest on BronxTalk (along with Ken Small of UNH member BronxWorks) to discuss the strong nonprofit infrastructure in New York City and the need for resources so nonprofits can effectively respond to community needs. 

Watch the interview here! 

A de Blasio-connected Education Coalition Presents its Blueprint for Pre-K

Friday, November 22, 2013

An organization affiliated with some of mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's closest advisers has presented him with a plan to implement his signature universal pre-K and expanded after-school plans.

Campaign for Children, a coalition of 150 education providers and advocates, released a detailed plan on Wednesday for how de Blasio can make his pre-K and after-school promises into policy.

Jennifer Jones Austin, the co-chair of de Blasio's transition team, is also the C.E.O. of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, which serves on the steering committee of the Campaign for Children. The Campaign for Children is also represented by Berlin Rosen, the firm that steered de Blasio's campaign to victory, and might be in a position to get this particular plans noticed from among the litany of priority memos and education wishlists de Blasio is being inundated with. 

The plan was delivered to de Blasio's transition team Wednesday after a rally at City Hall.

"The Campaign for Children seeks to be a partner in this endeavor, but also to hold the Administration accountable for its implementation," a spokeswoman for the Campaign said in a release. 

Campaign for Children's plan involves baselining $120 million of City Council discretionary funds for pre-K and after-school for 47,000 children, plus securing $30 million of one-year funding in the after-school system.

The plan also involves extending the current contracts through 2015 to avoid waiting on the Council to renew them this June, just six months after the de Blasio administration takes office. 

De Blasio should also create a new office, the group advised, to be called the Office of Early Childhood, which would focus exclusively on children ages 0-5. 

Campaign for Children has also advised the transition team to begin incorporating Common Core standards beginning in Kindergarten.

“The Campaign is excited and encouraged to have a Mayor-Elect who is a long-time champion of early childhood education and after-school programs, and who has made strengthening and expanding these programs a top priority for his new administration,” Nancy Wackstein, director of United Neighborhood Houses New York, one of the Campaign's members, said in a statement. 

EarlyLearn, the city's current system for enrolling children in pre-K programs, currently serves only 27 percent of eligible families, according to data from the Administration for Children's Services.

The Campaign for Children called EarlyLearn "under-funded and unstable" in a statement.

De Blasio's transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

Mock Election: After 13 years, it's the first time I'm voting

Tuesday, November 05, 2013
While registered voters all around New York City were voting for the next Mayor in November, UNH, with the New York Coalition to Expand Voting Rights, held a mock election at Diversity Plaza in Queens to raise awareness of the nearly one million legal immigrants in New York City who were unable to vote. NYC Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Melissa Mark-Viverito showed their support for increasing immigrant voting rights, along with State Senator Jose Peralta. Nearly 350 community residents came to cast their mock ballots. Yola Andersson, a Queens resident, said, "Today, after 13 years in this country, it's the first time that I'm voting." This is likely the nation's first mock election for non-citizen residents. UNH is hopeful about securing passage of the voting bill in the coming year and will continue to organize UNH agencies to participate. 

Here are Three Things the Next Mayor Should Do for NYC's Youngest

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Here are Three Things the Next Mayor Should Do for NYC's Youngest

Expert Advice on How to Strengthen the Early Childhood System

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 - 02:11 PM

Pre-kindergarten students (Yasmeen Khan)

It’s been one year since the Bloomberg Administration launched EarlyLearnNYC, an ambitious model aimed at improving the quality of the city’s contracted child care system for children ages 6 weeks to 4 years old. As we look back at its first year, we see that EarlyLearn, while laudable, has not been fully realized.

As it exists, the current EarlyLearn system is under-funded, decreases the capacity of the contracted system, and includes rates that are inadequate for providers.

According to the Mayor’s Management Report, EarlyLearn enrollment in fiscal year 2013 was 30,096, a substantial decrease from the more than 45,000 children enrolled in the contracted system the year earlier.

When we look at total enrollment in the contracted and voucher systems, we see a 19 percent decrease in the number of children served by ACS in 2013 (101,852) compared to 2010 (120,809). This decrease in the number of children served is particularly troubling in light of the fact that ACS has found that only about one third of all eligible children are being served as it is.

The numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

We see a path for the next mayor to take to truly maximize access to a high-quality, affordable, full-day early childhood education experience. EarlyLearn's overarching goal is to deliver a higher level of service; something that early childhood education providers and advocates agree is of vital importance in preparing high-needs, low-income children for kindergarten and beyond.

Here are three things we want to see the next mayor do to ensure the early childhood system's success:

1. Stop the annual budget dance. First and foremost, the more than $60 million of one-year City Council discretionary funding for child care must be baselined so that the money is permanently in ACS’s budget. This would eliminate the annual budget dance where the City Council restores the one-year funding each June and would result in a more stable system.

2. Increase funding. The city must address the EarlyLearn rate so that it is sufficient to fund the high-quality services that EarlyLearn envisioned. The per-child rate must be increased so that providers can meet standards, retain appropriate and credentialed staff and meet the costs of operations, administration, and materials for children.

3. Respect the staff. We must ensure early education staff has adequate compensation and benefits. An investment in the early childhood education system must include resources for the workforce, including professional development, support for obtaining credentials and advancing education, and improved compensation and benefits, including affordable health care coverage.

Subsidized child care is an investment in New York City’s future. Every child deserves access to safe, high-quality, and affordable early childhood education.

Going forward, the next mayor, public advocate, comptroller and City Council members must have a plan for making high-quality, affordable early education available to every New York City child.

Letter to the Editor: Don't Taint All Charities

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Don’t Taint All Charities

To the Editor:

Re “A Whistle-Blower’s Letter Led to a Charity’s Firing of Its Chief Executive” (news article, Sept. 16):

The troubling allegations surrounding the recently departed head of the nonprofit Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty are sad and unfortunate. But what would be more unfortunate is if the entire nonprofit sector — the many thousands of mission-driven organizations serving New York City — were tainted as well.

Legitimate and honest service organizations must not be penalized because of the negative publicity surrounding a single individual. New York City’s vulnerable people depend upon a robust and vital social service infrastructure of agencies in our city.

And these agencies in turn depend upon the generosity and trust of donors whose belief in the integrity of our organizations must not be shaken by this regrettable incident.

Executive Director
United Neighborhood Houses
New York, Sept. 16, 2013

UNH Junior Board Partners with We Did It

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Junior Board is already looking forward to the November delivery of 50+ care packages to college freshmen who came from UNH settlement houses. The committee has already had its first meeting on Monday, June 10 at The Actors Fund offices, and will have an upcoming meeting on July 25th at Viacom.

We Did It, a new crowd-funding platform, has agreed to work with the Junior Board on this initiative, free of cost. This exciting partnership will allow Junior Board members to share information about donating with their social networks and will raise the profile of the initiative with corporate partners.

Co-chairs  Dylan Armajani and Rebecca Sauer have really been bringing the Care Package Program to another level this year.  In order to sign-up more college-bound young people across the UNH network and gather material to use in a soon to be produced promotional video, the Care Package Committee launched the UNH College Video Contest.  The Contest received many wonderful submissions, all of which were vying for the grand prize of a 16 GB iPad mini!

Moving forward, those who submitted videos will be added to the care package program list and their creative and informative submissions will be used to help fundraise and item-raise for this year’s care packages. 

Last year’s care packages included items such as UNH-branded playing cards, water bottles, USB drives, earphones, snacks, and more.  The committee will be finalizing their goals for this year’s campaign and they will be item/fundraising in the summer, followed by a packing party on November 7th, 2013. Save the Date and email for more information.