D.A. Vance Invests $1 Million to Provide Free, Drop-In Childcare for New Yorkers with Cases in Criminal, Civil, and Housing Courts


October 26, 2021

Newly Dedicated “Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin Children’s Center” Will Be Located at 111 Centre Street

Pictured: Judges Marks, Kaplan, Ellerin, and D.A. Vance leading the dedication ceremony for the Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin Children’s Center. Photo by David Handschuh, OCA

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., today announced the investment of $966,865 to create the Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin Children’s Center, located on the first floor of 111 Centre Street. The Center will serve as a drop-in childcare provider for children ages six weeks to 12 years whose caregivers have court proceedings in the criminal, civil, and housing courts. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office provided funding to the New York State Office of Court Administration (“OCA”) and the Department of Citywide Administration Services (“DCAS”) for the construction, furnishing, and the first three years of operational costs for the Children’s Center. Earlier today, D.A. Vance, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Deborah Kaplan led a dedication ceremony naming the Center in honor of Judge Betty Weinberg Ellerin, a long-time champion of the project. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office is providing this grant through its Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (“CJII”), which D.A. Vance created using millions seized in investigations against major banks.
 
“My office is proud to invest in services that help New Yorkers attend and participate in court,” said District Attorney Vance. “Study after study shows the benefits of high-quality childcare on children’s health, behavior and long-term success. Providing a free, positive environment for children while their parents and caregivers attend to court matters will not only benefit the children and their families – but the entire court system as well.”
 
Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and of the State of New York Janet DiFiore, said: “Betty Weinberg Ellerin is a trailblazing judge, renowned for her career-long dedication to improve the treatment of women and children in the courts. I am delighted that this much-needed Children’s Center will carry her name, honoring her longstanding public service and her impactful work on behalf of women and children in the justice system.”   
 
DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo, said: “We are proud to support the establishment of the Children’s Center at 111 Centre Street and help create a safe space for children to have their needs met while allowing caregiver New Yorkers to participate in their court proceedings with more peace of mind.”
 
In May 2019, OCA submitted a proposal to the Manhattan D.A.’s Criminal Justice Investment Fund to open a Children’s Center at 111 Centre Street. In November 2019, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office, OCA, and DCAS signed an agreement to begin construction on the Center. Due to delays, including the COVID-19 pandemic, construction is ongoing – the Center is expected to open in 2022. Along with providing free and dependable childcare, employees of the Center will offer basic services and referrals to families for food assistance, shelter, early childhood education, employment assistance, and other community programs.
 
Primarily through CJII, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office has invested millions of dollars to create and fund programming and safe spaces for families and children throughout New York City, including the Community Navigators program, five Youth Hubs across Manhattan, and the Office’s signature Saturday Night Lights program, available city-wide.
 
A full list of CJII investments can be found in the 2020 Annual Report.