As Gov. Cuomo and our legislators consider how to invest in New York States future, the best returns clearly will come from New Yorks greatest resource: its children! Every day, we read about children who are abused, neglected, homeless, living in poverty and failing in school and in life.
The number of children living in poverty is growing. Teen parents who drop out of school to raise children are more likely to live in poverty and be unemployed. Its easy to get discouraged but the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation sees evidence every day that there is cause for hope!
Two MECF-supported parenting programs that work to break the cycle of poverty are located right here in Watertown. The Healthy Outcomes Program of the North Country Family Health Center and the Community Connections Positive Parenting Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County provide low-income young pregnant women with the supports they need to raise healthy children. They ensure young moms and their babies are nurtured throughout pregnancy and beyond.
They provide education on nutrition, early prenatal care, baby safety and positive parenting. They empower and encourage young mothers to get an education and achieve their goals for a better life for themselves and their children.
As one young mom said, I was encouraged to be a strong, independent woman and to make healthy choices. These programs provide positive support at a critical time: the birth of a baby and the first years of the childs life.
The programs provided by the North Country Family Health Center and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson are the best kind of investment: a small amount of funding that results in long-term benefits for children and parents, safeguarding against child abuse and poor outcomes now and in the future. New York is facing some very serious challenges, and its future depends on strong, independent families and citizens.
Every child deserves a chance to grow in a safe, nurturing home and have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. We hope that New Yorks leaders envision a bright future for all New Yorkers by supporting the work of the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation!
The writer is president of the board of directors for Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation.