New Report Identifies Barriers Facing Children in Brownsville and the Possibilities for Success

Press Releases

March 28, 2017

For Immediate Release: March 28, 2017
Contact: Elysia Murphy,, 212-673-1800 ext 18
Elora Tocci,, 212-673-1800 ext 13

Year-long study of Brooklyn community shows lack of infrastructure and access to resources but strong community desire for results.

New York, NY — Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) released its new report From Strengths to Solutions: An Asset-Based Approach to Meeting Community Needs in Brownsville.

The report unveils findings from more than a year of data collection and analysis in the Brownsville community, in which CCC drew from hundreds of government data indicators and engaged with dozens of residents, service providers and community partners to identify what drives poor outcomes in the area and the efforts underway to improve them.

Nearly one-third of Brownsville residents are under the age of 18, and the neighborhood is the fourth highest-risk community district in New York City for children. More than half of children in Brownsville live in poverty; more than 11 percent of newborns are low birthweight; just over a third of students graduate high school; and less than 16 percent of students in grades three through eight are proficient in math and English language arts.

“The report points to a lack of accessibility to the basic staples that every family needs: healthy food, transportation, child care, quality education and youth programs,” said Jennifer March, executive director of CCC. “These resources are even more crucial in communities like Brownsville, where so many families struggle to make ends meet. The report is an eye-opener to all of us that we must fight for Brownsville’s children to get the opportunities they deserve.”

Some of the key high-need areas in Brownsville that the report identifies include:

  • Convenient food retail options are out of reach for many families. 39 percent of Brownsville residents do not live within walking distance of a grocery store. Food retail stores are clustered in the northern part of the neighborhood, leaving those in the southern part of Brownsville with few if any options. While there are several farmer’s markets, there are issues with accessibility due to limited hours and seasons of operation.
  • Thousands of young children lack access to child care. Nearly 5,000 children under age five are income-eligible for ACS-contracted child care services. With just over 700 EarlyLearn seats and 800 Pre-k for All seats in Brownsville, this indicates a clear mismatch between needs and access to early child education services in a community with a large population of young children, high poverty rates, and significant number of children in single parent households. Additionally, half of adults in Brownsville work in industries that require non-traditional hours, when licensed child care options are usually unavailable for working parents.
  • After-school and summer programs are sorely needed for teens. There are currently 11 after-school programs in Brownsville, but only three targeted at high school-age youth. The absence of productive activities for older children, i.e. sports and recreation programs, employment opportunities or mentorship programs, was cited as a possible reason for high crime rates, which is the number one concern for many community members.
  • Economic mobility for families is constrained by inadequate transportation. More than one third of Brownsville’s adult population lives within half a mile of just one subway line, the #3. This subway does not operate in Brooklyn between midnight and 5:30 a.m., leaving residents without any subway access to Manhattan, the primary job center for New Yorkers. There are several bus routes that operate in Brownsville during those hours, but at times run less frequently than every twenty minutes.

These resources – food retail, child care, youth programs, transportation – are crucial for any New York City community, but are particularly important in high-need areas like Brownsville. Without adequate public transportation or child care, for example, families cannot access or maintain well-paying jobs. That makes it harder to afford healthy food, safe and stable housing, and otherwise escape the cycle of poverty. The same is true for a lack of safe and productive after-school and summer programs for children and young teens. More employment opportunities for older youth might make the community safer, and increased safety could lead to more young people taking advantage of existing parks and youth programs.

“CCC’s asset map provides a unique glimpse at the strengths of the Brownsville community by showcasing the network of individuals and organizations working to see to it that children’s needs are met,” said Elizabeth Olofson, executive director of the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation, who provided funding for the project. “We now have a deeper understanding of the services, supports and infrastructure that exist and what is lacking, as well as what programs require additional attention to ensure they are leveraged to their full potential.”

Included in the report are several examples of innovation and investment in Brownsville that could be expanded upon to change the trajectory of children and families in the community. These programs present exciting opportunities for government, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders to support programs, policies and budget initiatives that respond to the needs put forward by Brownsville residents and service providers in this report and achieve greater outcomes for the community as a whole.


About Citizens’ Committee for Children

Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York educates and mobilizes New Yorkers to make the city a better place for children. Since 1944, our advocacy has combined public policy research and data analysis with citizen action. We cast light on the issues, educate the public, engage allies, and identify and promote practical solutions to ensure that every New York City child is healthy, housed, educated and safe. For more information on CCC, visit our web site at Stay up to date on the latest news and information regarding the well-being of New York City’s children by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Explore Related Content

Explore Related Content