/ April 13, 2021

Social Emotional Learning: Doing her part to help each New Yorker get a fair shot

As an Early Childhood Social Worker at the Department of Education, Cora Caputo is always there for New York City’s littlest learners. She makes sure the three and four-year olds in her care have nurturing places to learn and play, and the skills to express their needs and feelings in a healthy way.

When the COVID-19 outbreak began and classrooms shifted to remote learning, Ms. Caputo’s job became much harder to do – but more important than ever. She serves about 342 children across nine Pre-K sites in Elmhurst and Ridgewood, two neighborhoods in Queens that were particularly hard-hit by COVID-19. It was clear that her students and their families were in great need.

Ms. Caputo noticed in her virtual classrooms that families were struggling to provide some basic learning supplies at home – like the crayons and paints that help children tap into their creativity and communicate their feelings. So the problem-solving social worker sprang into action.

She began contacting several art supply companies until she received a large donation of crayons, markers, and paints. While the rest of the city was social-distancing, Ms. Caputo put on her mask and gloves and began packaging and delivering supplies to the sites that could distribute them to the families she serves.

“Cora has a heart of gold,” said Melanie Lawrence, Mental Health Wellness Administrator at the Department of Education. “We found out on a Sunday that we were shifting to remote learning and ever since that following Monday, she’s been nonstop trying to do her best for children and families. She took initiative and she had compassion. She’s just a wonderful person.”

From Ms. Caputo:
“Working with our youngest learners and families is my way of helping each New Yorker get a fair shot, and I get to work with the wonderful people that make up our Division of Early Childhood Education team.”

Community mental health program: Social Emotional Learning

Social, emotional, and behavioral regulation skills are foundational for learning and well-being. Through a partnership between ThriveNYC and the Department of Education, Pre-K and 3-K programs across New York City provide social-emotional learning support to students, families, program leaders and teaching teams. Over 3,000 schoolteachers or program staff participated in at least one professional learning through this program since the program launched in 2016. And, an additional 3,000 parents and caregivers have attended family workshops to learn social emotional development practices since 2016.