ASTORIA — An early education program that aims to close the achievement gap by engaging families and helping young children get kindergarten-ready is coming to Astoria's P.S. 17 through a partnership between local nonprofit Zone 126 and NYU Langone Medical Center.
ParentCorps, a program of NYU's Center for Early Childhood Health and Development, which has been implemented in 28 city schools since 2000, is designed to equip parents and families with the tools to help their children succeed in the classroom, particularly in low-income communities.
"It was really designed to speak to families in urban contexts, and a diverse range of families from different backgrounds," said Dr. Dana Rhule, director of ParentCorps Academy.
The 14-week program, which launched Monday at P.S. 17 and is funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health, will consist of weekly in-school sessions for 36 children from pre-K to first grade, plus separate sessions for parents and caregivers.
"For the parent group, it really starts off with the idea of setting goals for their children and for themselves," Rhule said.
Parents learn about positive reinforcement, the power of play and the use of timeouts, while the children's sessions focus on social and emotional skills like making friends, problem-solving and self-esteem building.
ParentCorps also provides professional development training for teachers and school staff, with a focus on building positive behavioral support in the classroom and finding ways to get families more involved in children's learning.
This is the first time the program has been offered at P.S. 17, and is one of several services being launched in western Queens by Zone 126, which serves children and families in Long Island City and Astoria who live in zip codes 11101, 11102 and 11106.
"The ParentCorps program is perfectly aligned to Zone 126's goals," director Maritza Arroyo said in a statement. "The goal of having children be kindergarten-ready is one of critical importance to narrowing the achievement gap and increasing graduation rates."