The Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet has released two unprecedented reports that provide in-depth analysis of Early Childhood Development and Out-of-School Enrichment and Learning in the city and make a series of recommendations to improve opportunities for children and families.
Over a sixth-month period, the Early Childhood and Out-of-School working groups met to unpack structural barriers and identify opportunities for the community to consider and implement. The reports have been distributed to the Children's Cabinet Executive Committee and can be found on the Children’s Cabinet website, www.pkchildrenscabinet.com.
“We are extremely grateful to members of the working groups for their hard work and commitment of time to these efforts, which clearly have paid off with two outstanding, data-rich reports that offer an array of forward-thinking recommendations to consider,” said Poughkeepsie City School Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser.
“These reports are extensive and enlightening,” said Mayor Rob Rolison. “They provide important, insightful road maps for the community to utilize as we make key decisions to improve the lives of our children.”
Dr. Rosser and Mayor Rolison formed the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet in February 2020 to create a citywide “cradle-to-career” agenda for children, youth and families. They presented to the New York State Board of Regents about the cabinet at the Regents meeting on Feb. 15.
The Cabinet’s working groups met bi-weekly to develop the foundation and blueprint for their specific topic areas, including data collection, evaluation of public policy and assessment of funding allocations.
Dr. Julie Riess, Executive Director of DAY ONE Early Learning Community, chaired the Early Childhood Working Group. Mario Johnson, Director of Marist College Upward Bound, chaired the Out-of-School Enrichment and Learning Working.
Both reports document with detailed data points the significant challenges Poughkeepsie’s youth and families face due to intergenerational poverty and economic disadvantage, while also methodically examining additional key barriers City of Poughkeepsie children face.
Both reports also delve deeply into their respective subject matter and not only chronicle challenges and offer recommendations but highlight opportunities, including Dutchess County’s Youth Opportunity Union project on the former YMCA site in the city and the city’s creation of a Division of Youth Opportunity and Development.
The Early Childhood report touches on everything from brain development and kindergarten readiness to childhood workforce wages and development. The report recommends the creation of a “citywide single point of entry that streamlines individualized supports” for parents, advocates for sustainable funding sources, explains how other area organizations can assist and offers national models as guideposts.
Dr. Riess said, “Our intent was to be as thorough as possible, considering the complexities of early childhood development and how essential it is to lifelong health and success. Investing in early childhood is the most sustainable investment we can make in our children. I want to thank the other members of this working group for their considerable work and believe it will make a tremendous difference to our community as these recommendations are implemented.”
The Out of School report emphasizes that children spend 20 percent of their working hours in school and 80 percent of their waking hours out of school. By sixth grade, middle-class children have spent 6,000 more hours learning then their low-income peers, largely due to differences in access to out-of-school programs. The report recommends the creation of a citywide out-of-school time system, including development of centralized resources that enable community organizations to track youth participation and program outcomes. The report also calls for a more streamlined approach to foster coordination among the various nonprofit organizations and cites national models to consider in implementing the group’s findings.
Johnson said, “One significant recommendation is the need for citywide coordination in the out-of-school space to break down silos, promote alignment and advance a common agenda for children and youth. We know many people and organizations in our community are devoting themselves to out-of-school programs, but we have to maximize these efforts and allow them to grow and flourish. Every City of Poughkeepsie student should access to fully funded high-quality out-of-school time programs.”
The Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet initiative, including the issuing of these reports, will be included in Mayor Rolison’s State of the City Address, to be delivered at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at the Changepoint Theatre. Mayor Rolison will be joined by Dr. Eric Rosser, who will offer remarks during the speech.
The State of the City address will be carried live on the city’s Facebook page and also will be available for replay on the city’s website, www.cityofpoughkeepsie.com