Hillary Clinton and Chirlane McCray Announce “Talk To Your Baby” Campaign at SCO/FirstStepNYC

Photo credit: NYC Mayor's Office

Photo credit: NYC Mayor’s Office

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited SCO Family of Services’ SCO/FirstStepNYC early childhood education center Wednesday, April 1, 2015 to jointly launch New York City’s “Talk To Your Baby, Their Brain Depends On It” public awareness campaign, urging parents to talk, read and sing to their babies from birth.

Photo credit: NYC Mayor's Office

L-R: Chirlane McCray, Hillary Clinton, FirstStepNYC Founder Laura Ensler and Center Director Joan Kuo.

Clinton, McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery announced a collaboration between the New York City Children’s Cabinet and the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail children’s initiative that will feature major public awareness campaigns and a new partnership with Scholastic Inc. to distribute baby book bundles to hundreds of thousands of new NYC parents.

These efforts will focus on closing the “word gap.” Studies have found that by age four, children in middle- and upper-income families hear 30 million more words than their lower-income peers. This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words. And that puts our children born with the fewest advantages even further behind. 

“This is a conversation we want to have with as many people as we possibly can reach because everybody needs to be creative and smart about how we better prepare our kids for the future,” said Secretary Clinton. “The research is very clear that when the adults – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings who are in a child’s first school, which is a child’s family – begin to interact with that child from the very earliest stage, you are building a very strong foundation. And then hopefully, your infant, your baby, your toddler will have a chance to come to a facility like this where the caregivers and teachers are trained to continue to do that. So from every experience, your child will be learning words, developing a vocabulary, making it possible to better prepare that child for school.”

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“A baby’s brain grows so rapidly between birth and age 3 that what happens during those early years truly lays the foundation for future learning and development,” said Deputy Mayor Buery. “When we talk about how to reduce inequality and close the achievement gap – two priorities for this administration – our focus can and should start with birth.”

“The only way we’re going to fix inequity in this country is if we give everybody the right start. And learning begins at birth – that’s where we have to start,” agreed FirstStepNYC Founder Laura Ensler.

“I thank SCO Family of Services for hosting this gathering, and introducing us to those adorable babies and their adoring parents,” said First Lady McCray. “It was such a treat to sit in on story and music time. We really didn’t want to leave.”

“I was happy to be here at this exemplary center, and supporting the good work that the mayor and first lady are doing on behalf of our kids,” Secretary Clinton said in closing.

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Learn more about the Talk To Your Baby initiative at .

SCO/FirstStepNYC is a first of its kind, state-of-the-art early education program uniquely co-located at a K-8 public school, PS/IS 41, in Brownsville, Brooklyn. FirstStepNYC is an innovative demonstration model for children from birth to age five, focused on early learning, literacy and family support – as well as an embedded Leadership Institute for early education leaders citywide. The program is made possible by a public-private partnership with SCO Family of Services, the NYC Department of Education, the NYC Administration for Children’s Services and other public and private funders.

More information about the SCO/FirstStepNYC Early Childhood Center, as well as the SCO/FirstStepNYC Early Education Leadership Institute, can be found at sco.org/firststepnyc.

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