The Role of Community Development Corporations in Promoting the Well-Being of Young Children

Knitzer, Jane; Adely, Fida J.

Over the past decade, considerable public and private attention has been focused on strengthening strategies for early childhood development and family support. States are steadily increasing support for child development, child care, and family support programs targeting young children and families, and initiatives focused on cities are growing. Advocates have promoted broad community mobilization and public awareness about the importance of early childhood. For the most part, however, activity to promote healthy child development and provide support to families with young children has not been linked with efforts to promote family economic security in low-income communities. At the same time, initiatives to promote community building and address economic issues in low-income communities have typically not explicitly addressed the developmental and family support needs of young children and families. Recognizing this, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) decided to undertake an exploratory project to see what community-based organizations in low-income communities and neighborhoods are doing to promote the healthy development of low-income young children and families through child development and family support strategies. Our original aim was to include Comprehensive Community Initiatives as well as Empowerment Zones in our effort. However, at the time the project began, Comprehensive Community Initiatives did not generally address issues facing young children, and the Empowerment Zones generally focused only on child care.3 Therefore, NCCP chose to focus on community development corporations, or CDCs. CDCs are, in effect, the "bread and butter" of community building. Typically, CDCs work to promote community leadership and economic development. In viewing CDCs through a young child and family lens, the hope was that this study would identify approaches that could be nurtured and grown. Absent that, the hope was to learn what else might be done to capitalize on the strengths of CDCs in promoting improved outcomes to young children.


More About This Work

Academic Units
National Center for Children in Poverty
National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University
Published Here
July 8, 2010