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November 19, 2012

Contact:, (212) 341-0999 or (347) 986-0173

New York City Administration for Children's Services Opens New Head Start Center on Staten Island for Families in South Beach and Midland Beach

-- Center Is A Collaboration Between The City, Head Start, Staten Island Mental Health Society, Save The Children, and Community Playthings--

New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) Commissioner Ronald E. Richter announced today the opening of a new Head Start Center to serve families affected by Hurricane Sandy in the South Beach and Midland Beach communities of Staten Island. ACS has contracted with the Staten Island Mental Health Society to operate the Dongan Hills Head Start Early Learn Center for 57 children at 44 Dongan Hills Avenue, which opened today.

“As families struggle to get back on their feet in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the new Head Start Center will provide affected families with early care and education for their children,” said Commissioner Richter. “We are extremely grateful to our partners -- the Staten Island Mental Health Society and Save the Children -- for working with us to bring this critical resource to South Beach and Midland Beach. We are working diligently to be able to provide similar care to families in other storm-affected areas of the City.”

ACS was able to obtain the services by declaring an emergency in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The emergency declaration and procurement of the Head Start services were approved by the New York City Law Department and New York City Comptroller John C. Liu.

New furniture and learning aids for the center were provided by Save the Children, an international, independent organization dedicated to meeting the needs of children in the aftermath of disasters, in partnership with Community Playthings.

“We are so grateful to have this opportunity to serve children and families traumatized by Hurricane Sandy,” stated Fern Zagor, CEO of the Staten Island Mental Health Society. “The Dongan Hills Center serves families who live in the hard-hit Midland Beach and South Beach areas of Staten Island. Through this unprecedented effort and collaboration we can provide the much needed educational and emotional supports in the wake of this disaster and help move our children and their families on their road to healing.”

“During this critical time, it is more important than ever for children and families to have the support they need to return to normalcy,” said Myung Lee, Deputy Commissioner, Division of Early Care and Education at ACS. “Through a strong Head Start program, a key component of EarlyLearn NYC, the children receive quality early education programming and their families can get the care and services they need to start rebuilding their lives.”

“Sandy has had a devastating impact on child care throughout the region, rendering many facilities inoperable,” said Jeanne-Aimée De Marrais, Advisor, Domestic Emergencies, Save the Children. “In order for communities to recover, parents need to be able to access quality child care so they can begin to rebuild their lives by going back to work, knowing that their youngest children are safe and cared for. The emergency child care program is just one example of the good that can happen when the government and the private sector join forces for the betterment of communities affected by the storm.”

“When recovering from the destruction of hurricanes and other disasters, children and parents need good early care more than ever before. Community Playthings understands the importance of this recovery phase and thanks Save the Children, Head Start, and the Administration for Children’s Services for showing strong leadership during such difficult times,” said John Rhodes, CEO of Community Playthings

Head Start is a federally funded program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. The program is administered by the US Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Head Start, an Office of the Administration for Children & Families. ACS is a super grantee of the program responsible for contracting and overseeing the local centers throughout New York City.