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
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
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
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
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
You can read about Our Beginning here.