Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kid City thrives in Brooklyn 

Welcome to Kid City.

A swath of Brooklyn has the most kids compared to other neighborhoods across the city, with the largest number of children under the age of 6.

The highly concentrated pocket of kids stretches across Hasidic- Jewish Borough Park and also includes growing numbers of Chinese, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in Kensington, Sunset Park, and Flatbush.

"There is no other place like it on the planet," said CUNY Graudate Center sociologist Philip Kasinitz.

"You have a lot of Hasids who have a lot of kids. And you have immigrants in Kensington and Sunset Park who have a lot of kids. Where else are Bangladeshi, Mexicans, and Hasids, going to come together?" Kasinitz said.

Department of City Planning's crunch of U.S. 2010 Census data totals the pint-sized community at 26,221. The second largest kiddie cluster is on the Upper West Side, only one-fourth of the size of Kid City.

While Jewish families continue to lead in the Kid City count, other immigrant groups are quickly catching up.

Asians, for instance, 17 years and under, nearly tripled in population since 1990 from 3,379 to 8,644.

"The diversity is tremendous," said granddad Gene Tully, 66, who raised his two daughters and now his grandson Christian Hoffman, 9, in Kensington.

Christian, a third-grader at P.S. 230 on Albemarle Road, where parents said 60 languagues are spoken, claims Pakastani immigrant Muhammad Luqman, 9, as one of his best pals.

"I am learning English from him," said Muhammad, who moved to Brooklyn when he was 5.

All those children can create kid gridlock.

"We have a long wait list of children," said Helene Reisman, the daycare director at the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association on 8th Avenue which has nearly 1,000 kids waiting for 343 seats. "The need is so great, and we can only do so much."

The area's main hospital, Maimonides Medical Center, prides itself on keeping up with the young demand. Maimonides leads the state in births, delivering about 8,000 newborns each year, where 80 percent of moms are on Medicaid.

It also has a separate childrens' hospital with its own pediatric emergency room and neonatal intensive care unit.

Health officials said they treated 36,000 children in the ER last year. 20 percent were Chinese.

"Our clinic volume has done nothing but gone up," said Maimonides CEO Pamela Brier, adding hospital staff speak

70 languages.

P.S. 230 third-grader Ariel Bonill, 8, said he doesn't worry about living in Kid City, but wishes the school and nearby playground weren't always so packed.

"It's always very crowded," said Ariel whose mom is from Mexico. "When you parents come to pick you up, there is always a line."


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