The Essential Work Of Serving The Children Of Essential Workers

What the NYC DOE Achieved Through Philanthropic and Community Support

“Send me wherever you need me,” replied Lottie Almonte, a former principal and current central DOE employee, within seconds of receiving an email seeking experienced leaders to run the City’s new Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs). It was the middle of March and the NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) had just begun its transition to remote learning as the pandemic started. First responders, healthcare staff, transit employees, and other essential workers urgently needed care for their children. Within a week, Lottie began working as a site supervisor at one of the city’s 170 childcare sites within the Boys & Girls High School building, located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

Up until last week, as RECs officially closed to prepare for school reopening, Lottie welcomed children in grades K-12 five days a week. She reflects, “with us here caring for their kids, the parents could be there to take care of all of us.” As she explained, what the RECs provided goes far beyond a vital childcare solution. Children became part of a physically distanced yet close-knit community focused on addressing their social-emotional and individual learning needs, all while giving them and their families much-needed stability during an unpredictable time.

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