Creating a Department of Early Childhood Development

DOWNLOAD PDF READ IN FULL SCREEN By Josh Wallack, Gail B. Nayowith and Richard R. Buery 

President Obama recently affirmed the importance of quality early childhood education in 2013’s State of the Union address, pledging to work with states to expand programs, and to “make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. ” Early childhood development is a critical part of economic development strategy, helps ensure true equality of opportunity for children, and helps working parents, especially those who are low-income, succeed in the workplace. The next Mayor should take up the President’s call by working with the state and federal governments to expand services for children from birth to five to ensure that each child in New York City enters kindergarten ready to learn.

The best chance to succeed is with a single agency focused on that worthy goal. A new, independent Department of Early Childhood Development (DECD) would coordinate and enhance the various programs focused on children from birth to age five in New York City. Currently, these programs are spread through four agencies which report to two different Deputy Mayors. It will take sustained political effort, resources, and patience to accomplish this successfully, but by consolidating these programs into one agency, under one commissioner, we can make them more efficient and effective for New York City’s families.