For more than a century, Westchester Children’s Association (WCA) has been a leading voice for children in Westchester County. Surprisingly, most of the kids it helps have never heard of the organization. That’s because it doesn’t work directly with young people; instead it works to push for laws and projects that help children live healthier, more prosperous lives. Executive Director Cora Greenberg states WCA’s mission simply: “We work to change the odds for children in Westchester County.”
By now, the eight-person team at WCA has this down to a science. Greenberg says one of the organization’s most important tools is data, creating graphs and charts that easily show the need for the policies it is advocating. Then it convenes groups of interested stakeholders and local leaders to study the issue. Finally, they mobilize, meeting with lawmakers and executives in an effort to enact the project or legislation being proposed.
There are dozens of examples. With WCA’s help, the county improved its Summer Jobs Program for teens in foster care, restored $700,000 to the budget to provide childcare for working families, and added $75,000 of funding for the Youth Shelter Program—which helps young men accused of crimes turn their lives around. “When we’re successful and accomplish something like that,” Greenberg says, “it becomes part of the fabric of the community and a support children can rely on into the future.”