Partnership with Children’s mission is to strengthen the emotional, social, and cognitive skills of children in New York City so they can succeed in school, society, and life.
Since 1908, Partnership with Children (PWC) has worked to ensure that all children in New York City have the supports they need to thrive. Originally founded as Big Sisters, our organization was established to provide volunteer mentoring and services for girls referred by the family court system. Since the early 1990s, we have been bringing comprehensive school-based support to students and families in some of the city’s most under-served communities by placing full-time licensed clinical social workers, community school directors, and family outreach staff directly in schools. Over the past twenty-five years, our model has evolved as we have developed a deeper understanding of the relationship between poverty and trauma, the consequences of toxic stress and enduring racism, and the impacts of financial poverty on the emotional and cognitive well-being of children. We have refined and expanded the mental health services and system-building supports we provide so that we are supporting schools to meet the varied needs of all students and to address the ongoing stressors associated with systemic racism.
PWC has been committed to a community school strategy since well before we became the CBO partner to our first Community School in 2014. Our model has always been based on delivering coordinated, comprehensive services to students and their families and supporting schools to build a positive culture and to better serve students in need. We have continually sought out opportunities that align with this aim, building partnerships and adopting program models that can help us build the kind of robust system of programming, services and support that we know schools need to ensure that all students thrive. Today we have become one of the biggest providers of Community School services in the city, and have added Beacon programming and Preventative Services to our roster as well.
In 2020, in support of this intention, PWC acquired the Center for Arts Education to add a wide range of arts-based healing and educational services to our portfolio. The educational research is clear as to how critical arts activities are to engagement, social-emotional learning and strong academic performance, making CAE’s programming a valuable addition to our overall strategy.
OUR WORK NOW
Our expertise and experience has enabled PWC to respond quickly and effectively to the multiple crises that impacted students and schools in 2020 – the COVID-19 Pandemic, its economic fallout, and the racial justice reckoning. The COVID crisis laid bare what we had been responding to for decades in the schools we serve: Institutionalized racism and the accompanying poverty in the lives of Black and brown children.
To address these crises, PWC strengthened our commitment to children, families and schools by responding to the increased demand for our services with both compassion and innovation. We offered more anti-bias training and healing spaces in schools as a component of the trauma-informed services we provide. Our social workers and community school staff supported families and worked alongside principals, counselors and teachers to help families navigate the uncertainty of a turbulent school year and the transition to remote learning.
Today, PWC provides expert mental health services and support for children’s emotional well-being, serving some 30,000 students annually in schools across the five boroughs. Our staff collaborate with school leadership to build customized plans that are grounded in a trauma-informed approach and draw from a range of services including student counseling, family education, staff training, restorative practices, community outreach, and youth development programming. By promoting a strong positive school climate, addressing the mental health struggles of the most in-need students, and providing teachers with the tools they need to support academic success and children’s emotional well-being, our programs help create the opportunity for students, families and entire communities to thrive.
We currently partner with 32 schools in all five boroughs across New York City. Over half of our schools are in Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Brownsville and East New York. We also serve schools in the South Bronx, Queens, East Harlem, and the Stapleton area of Staten Island. All the schools we serve have a high percentage of students living in poverty, many in temporary housing situations and experiencing food insecurity. All serve a population composed largely of Black and brown students.