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January 2010


Cultural Education Committee


Jeffrey Cannell


Early Childhood Care and Educational Resources from Cultural Institutions


December 29, 2009







Issue for Discussion

How do cultural institutions contribute to the successful growth and development of children from birth to age five?


Reason(s) for Consideration


The Regents’ application for federal early childhood funds will be enhanced and enriched if all the resources of USNY are involved.  Cultural institutions maintain and provide resources, programs and locations that support early childhood initiatives.


Proposed Handling

The Regents will consider and discuss information on early childhood care and education programs offered by cultural institutions and make a recommendation to the full board regarding the role of these programs and resources in early childhood programs generally.

Background Information

Early childhood for the purposes of this item includes the approximately 1 million children statewide between birth and age five.  New York’s cultural institutions already have a structure in place that is providing and could provide, in an enhanced and expanded way, resources and services to support early childhood care and education.  Our vision is to provide a more robust and permanent infrastructure to link the resources and services from cultural institutions to all providers of early childhood programs.  Resources of cultural institutions are not limited to content or programs, but include public spaces where families and their pre-school children can gather, learn and make connections.

There are many examples of programs from libraries, museums, public television broadcasters and archives that benefit early childhood education. Examples of the programs already provided by cultural institutions that support early childhood care and education include:

The New York State Ready to Learn program (see for example: delivered by WMHT Educational Television.

Chemung County Library District ( participation in the Chemung County School Readiness Initiative.

The New York State Archives offers an online visual resource for pre-k educators and the public. The website, Throughout the Ages: A Visual Document Resource (www.archives, delivers historical records as learning tools in preK-grade 6 education.

Museums nation-wide, including many in New York, offer formal pre-school programs that offer hands-on learning opportunities for children ages three through five.  See for example the Rochester Museum and Science Center: and the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester:

Family Place Libraries™ – A joint initiative of Middle Country Public Library (in Centereach, NY) and Libraries for the Future (in NYC), with over 220 library sites in 24 states including 34 on Long Island:

The over 750 public libraries across the State serve nearly every community, providing year-round locations for learning.   The vast majority of these libraries have active reading programs serving pre-K readers and their families.  See for example the Queens Library for Kids:

Public libraries network with local organizations to share information about the library’s services and to provide “Books for Babies” kits to caregivers.

Public libraries are members of Family Reading Partnerships, which are helping families create a culture of literacy and develop reading as a family activity.

The State Museum’s Discovery Place welcomes pre-schoolers and younger children with the intention to create a real pattern of life long learning at a museum.

The First Five Years @BPL is available in 60 neighborhood library branches and through the “Kidsmobile” offering story times, support, outreach and child care education.

Despite the broad range and availability of these resources, it is difficult to develop an awareness among early childhood educators, parents, and families when we lack ways to connect with them.   Cultural institutions lack contact information or the structures that enable them to establish and maintain permanent relationships with the broad communities that provide early childhood programs and services.


Given the value of cultural institutions as content providers, program hosts and community spaces, the Regents endorse the centrality of cultural institutions to any early childhood initiative.