Richard Buery Discusses Potential Sale of Children’s Aid’s Philip Coltoff Center

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Earlier this week, we advised parents of children who attend nursery and early childhood programs at our Philip Coltoff Center (PCC) in Greenwich Village, as well as the center’s staff, that we are considering selling the two properties that comprise PCC: 219 and 209 Sullivan Street as well as the early childhood annex at 177 Sullivan. The decision must still be ratified by Children’s Aid’s Board of Trustees, which will meet on December 16 to consider this action, but we wanted to be as transparent as possible about what we are considering.  Contrary to what has been reported in the press, no negotiations with other schools or entities of any kind regarding the purchase of these properties have taken place.

The Board is considering the sale of PCC so that Children’s Aid can focus our finite resources on the underserved communities of New York City, where parents have the least resources and the fewest quality options available. This consideration is in alignment with our mission: to serve New York City children living in poverty. When Children’s Aid first opened the center – first as an industrial school that later became our Greenwich Village Center and in 2005 was renamed for our retiring CEO, the community was a destination for poor immigrants. Today, as you know, Greenwich Village has become one of the most affluent neighborhoods in New York City.  For example the median income in Greenwich Village is more than double that in Morrisania in the South Bronx, where Children’s Aid has established service hubs and community schools over the last 10 years.  While Greenwich Village families undeniably have real needs for quality and affordable early childhood programs, the needs of the families in many of the high-poverty, under-resourced communities that Children’s Aid serves today far outstrip the supply.

Children’s Aid’s programs and services have evolved with the changing needs of families and communities; over the years it has relocated services repeatedly in order to be where the need is greatest. We are proud of the excellent programs that PCC has provided for the children of lower Manhattan and we understand the stress, sadness, and anger that our announcement has caused among parents. We are committed to exploring options that might allow other organizations to continue providing important services to the Greenwich Village community, and to providing an orderly transition for staff and families if and when we end services there.  Know that we do not make this decision lightly.  Yet our obligation, as stewards of an enduring mission to serve the neediest children among us, is to make difficult decisions about how best to use very limited resources to advance the needs of low-income children and families.

Richard R. Buery, Jr.

President and CEO
The Children’s Aid Society