We are on the eve of celebrating our first birthday, and since “Our Beginning” we have much to share. Aside from the many transitions each of us has been through – whether it has been births, graduations, marriage – we are on the move! Many people have asked whether we provide childcare – no, sorry, we don’t. The name Brooklyn Childcare Collective was chosen because we believe that “childcare” includes the notion that we each play a role in caring for children. The particular children the Collective cares for include the babies and the adolescent parents. We believe that it is our collective responsibility to these families to provide care and resources to them. They belong to us and they are us. I am the child of teen parents and my extended family and larger community owned and embraced their responsibility to me, my parents, and my siblings. A big thank you goes out to eastside Detroit and the Osley/Miller clan. I know that I am because of so many others – and the Collective is my gift. Now back to business!

Excitedly and joyously, I report that we have received funding to support the good work of building sustainable families and creating amazing community activists out of the young mothers that make up the Collective. Generously, we are supported by the New York Foundation, Independence Community Foundation, North Star Fund, and the Child Welfare Fund. This funding enabled us to hold four “Mommy and Me” support luncheons for adolescent mothers and their babies. We held these luncheons in order to facilitate and strengthen peer support networks. We were also able to employ two peer leaders to represent the Collective at meetings with agencies wanting or needing to hear from adolescent mothers. This fall we hope to produce a parenting handbook and resources manual for adolescent parents and in the spring we plan to hold a conference to address issues that impact adolescent parents. Specifically, we will deal with issues of education equity and access, sexual and reproductive health services, welfare reform and economic opportunities for adolescent parents. We will continue to hold weekly workshops at the Continued Education School, an alternative program for pregnant and parenting adolescents. This year we will focus on the emotional journey of parenting, creating positive co-parent relationships, reproductive health awareness, and financial independence. Our “Super Saturdays” program will focus on organizing activities and political education while affording young parents an opportunity to socialize and share information. This program is important because it will allow many young parents not enrolled at Continued Education to fellowship and become involved in the Collective.

Also, we have developed relationships with some amazing folks: Protect Pro-Choice Education Project, New York Civil Liberties Union, Academy for Educational Development, Brooklyn Family Court, People United for Children, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Brooklyn Perinatal Network, Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Division, the Door, Legal Information for Families Today, and Center for Family Representation. Each of these relationships helps us weave together a network of services and resources that is critical to the growth and empowerment of young families.

We are confident about our future and honor our past and toward that end, here are last year’s “big moments”:

October, 2004 – The Collective launches its program twice per week at Continued Education related to maternity leave, childcare, special education services and Title IX protections. Initial services are push-in workshops in the family dynamics class and one-on-one crisis support related to resolving legal issues. The workshop topics were on breastfeeding, legal issues, developing birth plans, and time management while being a parenting student.

November, 2004 – The Collective extends services to caregivers, provides the parents of the young women with information re: educational services, advocacy in family court, and community-based resources.

February, 2005 – The Collective launches its website which expands its referral sources to include caseworkers, parents and adolescent parents. The Collective also continues the twice weekly workshops and begins collaborating with outside agencies. Specifically, the Collective works with midwives from Metropolitan Hospital to discuss alternative birth practices – creating birth plans, advocacy and education re: vaccinations. The Collective begins distributing issues of Mothering Magazine and pamphlets that promote breastfeeding.

March, 2005 – The Collective is featured as part of Women’s History Month on NY1. The Collective continues workshops and focuses on education advocacy. The Collective explains through workshop format and individual interventions right related to maternity leave, childcare, special education services and Title VIIII protections.

April, 2005 – May, 2005 – The Collection works with the Legal Aid Society and Break-the-Cycle to educate about violence against women, family court consequences related to current case law and policy, process to secure orders of protection, effective advocacy with law enforcement. The Collective also helped facilitate peer support networks among survivors and victims. One young woman secured an order of protection for herself and child with the support of a peer survivor.

May, 2005 – June, 2005 – Worked with school's administrative staff to improve technological resources and library collection after organizing the young women to challenge the inadequacy of available resources. As a result of this effort, there will be computers available to the girls and the library’s collection will be in circulation this fall.

July, 2005 – Met with a core group to being planning upcoming activities and to discuss how we will implement our community-based services and organizing model.

Garnering strength from the Collective’s energy - All the Best.




You can read about Our Beginning here.

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