By: Priscilla Lincoln, PhD, PMHNP

On Thursday, April 7, 2021, Power of Two, RiseBoro Community Partnership and the New York Zero-to-Three Network co-sponsored a “Babies Can’t Wait” Mayoral Forum on the issues affecting children and families in New York City.

The nonpartisan forum was virtual and conducted in a moderated Q&A format where candidates engaged in a conversation with Power of Two’s Executive Director and NYZTT Board Member, Erasma Beras-Monticciolo. Erasma framed the discussion by noting that significant brain development occurs during the first 1000 days of life and that the unique impact of early experiences on infant and early childhood development provides the developmental foundation for social-emotional and mental health, executive function and self-regulation, resilient responsiveness and the ability to overcome adversity, and ultimately, the ability to successfully negotiate the challenges of childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Understanding the importance of these early years, each candidate was asked to describe their vision for a city government infrastructure that fully addresses the many intersectional needs of marginalized communities inclusive of the voices of BIPOC and Latinx families that includes an equitable system to start all babies on the path to happy and healthy growth.

Most candidates agreed that including an expert in the holistic nature of infant development and parental support would ensure that all mayoral policies would be developed with a consideration of their impact on our youngest citizens across NYC departments. Candidates answered a variety of specific questions, including those presented by video from constituents, about their vision and future policies that will help make the lives of New York City children and families better if elected. Topics included how to address the need for equitable prenatal care for all; the expansion of early intervention services, childcare and the below-cost-of-living wages for these early intervention therapists and childcare professionals; the need for services to address trauma – especially trauma due to Covid — experienced by children living in poverty without access to resources; and the impact of lack of access to healthy foods, adequate housing and equitable educational opportunities.
Participating candidates included:
· Eric Adams
· Art Chang
· Quanda Francis
· Stacey Prussman

The video can be viewed here.