Declaration on the Well-Being of NYC's Children

Written by the New York City Advisory Council on Child Well-Being. See full list at bottom of the page.

The New York City Advisory Council on Child Well-Being endorses Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio's call for universal pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds, and after-school for middle-school children, as part of a bold and comprehensive program to enable NYC's children to meet their potential. We urge leaders in NYC and in Albany to support UPKNYC with the policies, finances, philanthropy, and partnerships needed to bring this vision to fruition.

The Advisory Council will support the implementation of these new educational programs through research, public awareness and advocacy, and participation in community programs around New York City, especially in the low-income communities of the City. The Advisory Council was created at a summit on November 25, 2013, and operates with the support of the Program on Child Well-Being and Resilience of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Its members include community leaders, educators, economists, physicians, child development specialists, and public health practitioners across New York City.

We call attention to the overwhelming evidence that investing in the health and education of children is the highest-return investment available to society. We recognize the critical role of parents and a range of support programs that enrich the years of early development. We note that critical investments in learning, nutrition, and health -- including mental health -- are needed at every stage of a child's life, indeed from birth onward. When these investments are inadequate at any stage, children can fall behind, making it more difficult for them to make up lost ground and making it more costly to society. Indeed, investments at the youngest ages, including the pre-K years, have the highest returns of all.

In recent decades, the growing divide between rich and poor has also meant a growing burden on the City's poor children. These children often face insurmountable obstacles to breaking free of poverty, a paucity of resources to overcome these deprivations, and lack of access to informal learning opportunities that connect them to the cultural and educational riches of the City.

According to the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), one in four children in New York City is growing up in poverty. An additional 30% are living under near-poverty conditions, defined as falling between 100-150% of the CEO poverty threshold. There is massive and incontrovertible evidence that a disproportionate number of the children in low-income households will go on to have shorter and less healthy lives, and remain in poverty as adults, continuing the cycle of social crisis. All too often, poor children suffer undiagnosed or untreated mental and physical health conditions; toxic exposures and stress; sleep deprivation; poor nutrition; threats to safety; and live in environments with less cognitive stimulus. Collectively, these and other factors lead to major impediments in learning and development.

Fortunately, we live at a time of unprecedented wealth and financial capacity in the City. With its world leadership in finance, the media, and commerce, New York City is ideally positioned to support all of its children. We believe that all segments of the NYC community, including its business leaders, political leaders, and philanthropists, should support the Mayor-elect's call for a small tax increase on incomes above $500,000 per year to fund the expanded pre-K and after-school programs.

The Advisory Council therefore enthusiastically advocates an integrated strategy for our children, one that implements the Mayor-elect's call for universal pre-K for all four-year-olds and after-school programs for middle-school children, and that complements these school- and community-based programs with children's health and environmental initiatives. Such comprehensive investment will benefit our children and our economic future, and will unleash a wave of creativity in education, healthcare and social policy that will also benefit the nation and the world.

Advisory Council on Child Well-Being Members and Declaration Signatories:

Dr. Irwin Redlener
Chairman, Advisory Council
Director, Program on Child Well-Being and Resilience
Earth Institute at Columbia University
President, Children's Health Fund

Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs
Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University

Lawrence Aber, Ph.D
Willner Family Professor in Psychology and Public Policy
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
University Professor
New York University

Andrew Ackerman, MA
Executive Director
Children's Museum of Manhattan

Charles Basch, Ph.D
Richard March Hoe Professor of Health and Education
Teachers College
Columbia University

Kofi A. Boateng, CPA, Ph.D
Executive Director
West Harlem Development Corporation

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, M.Ed., Ph.D
Virginia & Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development & Education and Professor of Pediatrics, College of Physicians and Surgeons,
Co-director, National Center for Children and Families,
Columbia University

David N. Dinkins
106th Mayor of New York City
Professor in the Professional Practice of Public Affairs
Columbia University

Sally E. Findley, Ph.D
Professor of Population and Family Health
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

Ester R. Fuchs, Ph.D
Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science
Director of the Urban and Social Policy Program
School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

Susan H. Fuhrman, Ph.D
Teacher's College
Columbia University
H. Jack Geiger, MD, MSciHyg
Arthur C. Logan Professor Emeritus of Community Medicine, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, City College of New York

Meghan Groome, Ph.D
Executive Director of Education & Public Programs
The New York Academy of Sciences

Melanie Hartzog, MS
Executive Director
Children's Defense Fund - New York

Betty Holcomb
Policy Director
Center for Children's Initiatives

Richard Kahan
Founder and CEO
The Urban Assembly

Alex Karnal
Partner, Deerfield Management

Nancy Lauter, Ed.D
Professor and ECEL Graduate Programs Coordinator
Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Literacy Education
Montclair State University

Gess LeBlanc, Ph.D
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Educational Foundations and Counseling Programs
Hunter College

Henry M. Levin, MA, Ph.D
William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
Director, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
Co-Director, Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education, Columbia University
David Jacks Professor of Education and Economics, Emeritus, Stanford University

Gerald M. Loughlin, MD
Nancy C. Paduano Professor and Chairman
Weill Cornell Medical College
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

Michael J. MacKenzie, B.Sc., M.Sc., MSW, MA, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Social Work
Columbia University

Catherine S. Manno, MD
Pat and John Rosenwald Professor and Chair
Department of Pediatrics, NYU School of Medicine
NYU Langone Medical Center

Jennifer March, Ph.D
Executive Director
Citizens Committee for Children of New York

Gwendolyn S. McEvilley, M.Ed
Head Start Sponsoring Board Council

Alanna Navitski, M.S.Ed.
Program Co-Director
Infant and Family Development and Early Intervention Program
Bank Street College of Education

Pedro A. Noguera, MA, Ph.D
Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development
Executive Director
Metropolitan Center for Urban Education
New York University

Aaron Pallas, Ph.D
Professor of Sociology and Education
Teachers College
Columbia University

James Parrott, Ph.D
Deputy Director and Chief Economist
Fiscal Policy Institute

Frederica P. Perera, MPH, DrPH, Ph.D
Professor of Public Health
Director, Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Director, Disease Investigation Through Specialized Clinically-Oriented Ventures in Environmental Research (DISCOVER) Center
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

Andrew D. Racine, MD, Ph.D
Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director
Montefiore Medical Group

Michael A. Rebell, Esq.
Professor and Executive Director
Campaign for Educational Equity
Teachers College, Columbia University

Karen Redlener, MS
Executive Director
Children's Health Fund

Marjorie Rhodes, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Psychology
New York University

Ellis Rubinstein
President and CEO
The New York Academy of Sciences

Joanna Rubinstein, D.D.S., Ph.D
Assistant Director of the Earth Institute for International Programs
Special Advisor to Jeffrey D. Sachs
Senior Advisor to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Marilyn Rubinstein, MS
Early Childhood Direction Center/Manhattan
NewYork - Presbyterian Hospital

Sonia Ehrlich Sachs, MD, MPH
Director of Health
Millennium Villages Project
Earth Institute
Columbia University

Barbara Schwartz, MS, MA, Ph.D
Clinical Associate Professor of Special Education
NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Prabhjot Singh, MD, Ph.D
Director of Systems Design
The Earth Institute
Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

Alana Sweeny, MA
Executive Director
Police Athletic League

Kim Sweet
Executive Director
Advocates for Children of New York

Jeanette C. Takamura, MSW, Ph.D
Dean and Professor
Columbia University School of Social Work
Columbia University

Joan Toglia, Ph.D, OTR, FAOTA
School of Health and Natural Sciences
Mercy College

Jennifer Tuten, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Literacy Education and Chair
Department of Curriculum and Teaching
Hunter College School of Education
Hunter College

Jane Waldfogel, M.Ed., Ph.D
Compton Foundation Centennial Professor for the Prevention of Children's and Youth Problems
Columbia University School of Social Work
Columbia University

Elie Ward, MSW
Director of Policy & Advocacy
NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, District II

Renée Wilson-Simmons, DrPH
National Center for Children in Poverty
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

Hirokazu Yoshikawa, MM, MA, Ph.D
Courtney Sale Ross Professor of Globalization and Education and University Professor
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
New York University