As Gov. Andrew Cuomo and our legislators consider how to invest in New York state's future, the best returns clearly will come from New York's greatest resource its children! Every day, we read about children who are abused, neglected, homeless, living in poverty and failing in school and in life. The number of children living in poverty is growing. Teen parents who drop out of school to raise children are more likely to live in poverty and be unemployed. It's easy to get discouraged - but the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation sees evidence every day that there is cause for hope!
A foundation-supported program is making a difference right here in Western New York. The BABY & ME Tobacco Free Program of Cornell Cooperative of Cattaraugus and Allegany counties is helping pregnant women in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties, quit smoking and stay quit. This proven, evidenced-based program assists pregnant smoking women in their quit attempt and provides free diaper vouchers for one year after the baby is born to those who remain tobacco free. This program is the best kind of investment: a small amount of funding that results in long-term benefits for children and parents, safeguarding against poor health outcomes now and in the future.
New York is facing some very serious challenges, and its future depends on strong, independent families and citizens. Every child deserves a chance to grow in a safe, healthy, nurturing home and have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. We hope that New York's leaders envision a bright future for all New Yorkers by supporting the work of the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation!
Joy Griffith is executive director of The Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation (www.mecfny.org), a not-for-profit organization supported through the state budget that promotes healthy birth outcomes and positive parenting. For more information about the Baby and Me program in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties, contact 665-2310.