June 1, 2015
Using Keeping Track Data to Better Meet the Needs of Children in Hunts Point
After the release of CCC’s Community Risk Ranking earlier this year, CCC and the Hunts Point Alliance for Children began conversations about what the data tell us about the needs of children and families living in the community. The Hunts Point Alliance for Children (HPAC) is a community based organization whose mission is to work with families to support the educational progress of children by providing resources for their intellectual, social, emotional and physical health and well-being. Our discussions culminated in HPAC’s Executive Director, Krystal Reyes, participating in the panel discussion at CCC’s Keeping Track Premiere in April. The following is a summary of highlights of what HPAC discussed at this event.
What do you see as some of the biggest barriers that the families in Hunts Point face?
In the CCC Community Risk Ranking report released earlier this year, our neighborhood was identified as the highest risk for children across various domains including: economics, housing, health, education, youth, and family and community. What the data highlights is the presence of multiple risk factors and the profound impact they have on families and communities. In many ways, the biggest challenge our families face is simply the concentration of risks, and the ways, both big and small, that they interplay in their daily lives.
At HPAC, education is the lens through which we address these challenges.We work on a family, community, and policy level to increase academic opportunities for neighborhood students. In partnership with schools, communities, and families our goal is to put children on a trajectory to college. We believe that by supporting academic achievement and increasing access to pathways to careers, students and families gain the tools necessary to create positive change in families and whole neighborhoods.Our model includes after school programming, counseling on education transitions (such as entering middle school, high school and college) and social service support when our families are in need of additional help to be able to focus on education.
Each month, HPAC convenes the principals of the seven schools in the Hunts Point neighborhood to address community-wide issues. They have shared that the biggest barriers to school success impacting their students include safety concerns, the prevalence of homelessness, high asthma rates, and the impact of trauma. Each of these factors has both a direct and cumulative effect on individual, family, and community well-being.
In what ways do you use data to understand and meet the needs of families and children to get kids on the right track and prepared for school and academic success?
When we talk about Hunts Point, we are referring to the peninsula comprising the easternmost section of the South Bronx. This area has just over 12,000 residents, 5,000 of whom are school-aged and 1,000 under age five. When compared with data showing available seats for HeadStart, UPK, and licensed childcare providers in the area, we found that a large number of our youngest residents were not being served. Based on the demographic data and the lack of programming for young children, we committed several years ago to expand our early childhood activities. This decision was driven by the large and growing population of children, particularly those under five years-old, and the increasing body of research that showed that targeted interventions in early childhood have the greatest and most lasting impact on child well-being. To truly prepare our students – academically and socially-emotionally for school – we knew we needed targeted programming for this age group.
When we dug further into the data, we realized that even within the 0-5 population, there was a group that was severely underserved – infants and toddlers. In response, we expanded our early childhood work further to include an infant and toddler initiative that provides professional development for childcare providers and programs and services for parents that focus on strengthening the parents- child-relationship.
How is Keeping Track a useful tool in this work?
Keeping Track is a tool that illustrates the importance of looking at data across various domains in order to determine trends and focus areas.At HPAC we use the data to make choices about programs to offer either directly or in collaboration with our alliance members or other partners. For example, the high drop out rate and low college attainment rates in Hunts Point spurred HPAC to add a college and career readiness component to our youth development programs several years ago. Through those initiatives, HPAC exposes students to the world of work and college by connecting them to mentors, professionals, internships and volunteer opportunities. We show students that academic achievement is the path to college and opportunity.
We use the data in Keeping Track as the starting point for building a collective strategy to improve child outcomes. For example, this past year, our Alliance has mobilized around the shared goal of increasing the ELA scores of students in Hunts Point and recently launched an 18-month literacy event series. Over the course of the next year and half, our alliance members will pool resources and align activities and programs around the goal of increasing the literacy skills of children from birth to high school. We are responding collectively to address the need that the data showed.
Keeping Track is also a key tool to remind all of us that a neighborhood is more than a set of indicators. The database provides an opportunity to dig deeper into the data and to ask question about the factors that can’t easily be quantified, including community strengths. It is this whole picture of a neighborhood that HPAC sees and uses to identify solutions.
You can explore the data on Keeping Track Online which allows you to create custom maps and charts to better understand the needs of children citywide, across the five boroughs and throughout the 59 community districts.
Learn more about the Hunts Point Alliance for Children by visiting their web site here.